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Ravens' secret to limiting Tom Brady's success: Keep it simple

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- When the Baltimore Ravens play the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN), the Ravens' defense hopes it leaves Foxborough, Massachusetts, with this unofficial title intact:

The team that slows down Tom Brady better than anyone else in the league.

The Ravens have limited Brady to a 76.7 passer rating, his worst against any team he's faced more than four times (including playoffs). He's thrown 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions against Baltimore, which is not exactly a stat line befitting the winningest quarterback in NFL history.

Most of the Ravens spoke in generalities this week when asked about the key to stopping Brady. For insight, you have to go back to 2014, when Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees offered advice for those trying to beat Brady and Peyton Manning in the playoffs.

"The thing that too many people try to do is to be too coy," Pees said. "It doesn't work."

In other words, keep it simple. The numbers back it up.

When the Ravens rush only four players, Brady has completed 55.9 percent of his passes with seven touchdowns and 11 interceptions. His passer rating is 66.2.

When Baltimore has blitzed, he has connected on 67 percent of his throws with five touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating soars to 103.2.

The Ravens haven't contained Brady by tricking him. They've relied on getting pressure from their front four, dropping seven into coverage and relying on execution.

"There will be wrinkles in the game plans, I’m sure, on both sides," coach John Harbaugh said. "[Brady] will have studied us in every which way possible, I’m quite sure, looking for every indication that he can. That’s just what he does a great job of. That’s one of the things that makes him the great player that he is. We’re just going to have to be ready for everything and play our style of football.”

The Ravens have the advantage of some insider knowledge. Pees has a long history with the Patriots, serving as their defensive coordinator from 2006 to 2009 and their linebackers coach from 2004 to 2005.

Since Pees took over the Ravens' defense in 2012, Brady is 2-2 against Baltimore.

"To me, it’s more about just knowing the mindset of them than it is knowing the scheme of them, because the scheme changes week to week," Pees said.

Cornerback Jimmy Smith says one reason the Ravens have contained Brady and the Patriots' offense is what they do after he completes a pass.

"What they do isn’t rocket science," Smith said. "It’s just they execute well, and they’re very well-coached. When they catch a 5-yard crossing route, they get extra yards. I think that’s what helps their offense go so well. On our part, we have to be a great tackling defense and a very physical defense that helps stop what Brady does.”

The frustrating part for the Ravens is that their efforts against Brady haven't resulted in more wins. Despite keeping him in check, Baltimore has lost seven of 10 meetings with Brady.

The Ravens' defense, though, has earned the respect of the four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback.

“They contest every yard. That’s the mark of a good defense,” Brady said. “They don’t give you anything easy; you’ve got to go earn it."