Earlier in the season, the ability to create turnovers became the saving grace for a Ravens defense that was otherwise porous in terms of yards allowed.
Going into the playoffs having lost four of their last five games, the Ravens also have another streak they'd like to break: The defense hasn’t come up with a turnover in the last three games.
After being as high as No. 2 in the NFL in giveaway-takeaway ratio, the Ravens ended the season plus-9 (tied 8th).
They couldn’t force Peyton Manning or Eli Manning into mistakes, and failed to rattle Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton or his backup, Bruce Gradkowski, in Sunday’s 23-17 loss.
In three games vs. the Ravens going into Sunday, Dalton had thrown just 1 touchdown and 4 interceptions.
They open the playoffs this Sunday vs. the Indianapolis Colts and rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, who has thrown for a first-year record 4,374 yards and 23 TDs. But he has been intercepted 18 times.
The Colts are minus-12 in giveaway-takeaways.
“We need to get pressure, knock the ball loose,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday. “We’ve had a couple of not-so-good breaks, as far as some review calls and things like that on some sacked fumbles that were rightfully overturned.”
Ravens defensive tackle Bryan Hall had a sack of Dalton that originally was ruled a fumble until booth review determined it was a forward pass because of the “tuck” rule. The special teams unit jarred the ball lose on a kickoff vs. the Denver Broncos but couldn’t recover the fumble.
The defense has improved to 17th overall by tightening against the run, but the turnovers have dried up.
“We need to create more turnovers,” Harbaugh said. “That’s a huge part of it. That will be a big difference in the playoffs.”