NFL's best defense? Ravens insist title remains in Baltimore

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Baltimore Ravens gave up their most points in a game this season. They gave too much time to Cam Newton. They gave too much space for DJ Moore and Greg Olsen.

But, after a humbling 36-21 loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, the Ravens did refuse to give up something -- their title as the NFL's best defense.

Asked if there was any concern about the defense, linebacker C.J. Mosley said, "Zero."


"Because I know who we are, I know how we prepare every week, so one game don’t define us," Mosley said.

Are the Ravens among the best defenses in the NFL, if not the best? "Yep," Mosley replied.

Baltimore still ranks as the league's No. 1 defense in fewest points (17.1) and yards allowed (293.8). On Sunday, the Ravens looked like a slow and frustrated defense.

The Ravens' aggressiveness got them out of position on Carolina's misdirection plays. Their blitzes got picked up, which resulted in no sacks on Newton. And they continually left holes over the middle, where Moore and Olsen flourished.

Should this be considered a one-game blip for this usually dominating defense?

"It's serious for me, for everyone," safety Eric Weddle said. "It's not just, 'Chalk it up as a bad game and move on.' No, we can't do that. We'll look at the film. We'll get coached up extremely hard, and I'll push the guys and we'll get better from it."

The Ravens' struggles go beyond the debacle inside Bank of America Stadium. Dating back to the fourth quarter of the Saints game, Baltimore has surrendered 53 points over its past five quarters. The Ravens defense has given up six touchdowns and four field goals on its last 13 full drives (not including the end-of-game kneel-downs).

"It’s apparent that two weeks in a row we weren’t very sharp," defensive tackle Michael Pierce said. "For whatever reason that is, that’s got to get corrected ASAP. We got Pittsburgh coming up. It’s personal pride. You have to man up to what everybody’s doing and see what’s going on."

It's understandable that the Ravens couldn't contain Drew Brees and the NFL's highest-scoring offense for an entire game. It's another issue that Newton and the league's No. 18 offense had its way with Baltimore.

Newton led the Panthers to a season-high 36 points, directing marathon drives of 99 and 85 yards. With Torrey Smith sidelined, Moore produced the most yards from scrimmage (129) against the Ravens this season. Olsen had a season-high 56 yards receiving and one touchdown after being sidelined for half the season with a foot injury.

"It’s not going to discourage anything we’ve done thus far and it’s not going to deter anything we’re trying to accomplish going forward," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "It’s a very unfortunate game. We didn’t play well. They did a [better] job executing their game plan than we did ours. That’s pretty much how I’m summing it up."

The Ravens' defense can redeem itself Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since Baltimore held Pittsburgh to 14 points earlier this year, the Steelers have scored 41, 28 and 33 points.

Holding the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger in check again would validate what the Ravens were saying after Sunday's loss.

"I still believe we are [the NFL's No. 1 defense]," safety Tony Jefferson said. "One game doesn’t change it. One game doesn’t make it. One game doesn’t break it."