The Ravens’ defense ended the regular season in unprecedented territory, becoming the first in modern NFL history to lead the league in scoring defense, sacks and takeaways in the same season.
After a 17-10 loss Saturday to the Pittsburgh Steelers in their regular-season finale, the Ravens had to wait and see whether they could hold on to first place in the three major defensive categories. Ultimately, they had to settle for a tie in one statistic.
The Ravens finished with 16.5 points per game allowed, 0.8 points ahead of the second-place Kansas City Chiefs; 60 sacks, three ahead of the Chiefs; and 31 takeaways, tied with the New York Giants, who forced four turnovers Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Not trying to toot our own horn, but I believe our defense has no weakness,” quarterback Lamar Jackson said in November. “Just from the defensive line, the linebackers, the secondary, how they’re flying around and disguising defenses — making it look like one coverage, but it’s something else — and how they time up their blitzes, it helps us out a lot, because when we’re playing other teams, they’re flying around and giving us their best shot. It’s like we’re seeing one of the best defenses every day.”
The accomplishment adds another line to the head coaching resume of Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who’s expected to be one of the NFL’s most coveted candidates in the coming weeks.
“We have the utmost respect and the utmost trust in every single person on this defense,” inside linebacker Roquan Smith said after the Ravens handled the San Francisco 49ers’ explosive offense in a 33-19 win in Week 16. “The way Mike called the game is second to none in this league. I just love playing in this defense. It’s very hard to do what you need to do for four quarters on this defense.”