Top things to know: Ravens defense

James Lang/US Presswire

The Ravens defense has forced turnovers at a higher rate than any team in the playoffs

Here are six things to know about the Baltimore Ravens defense:

They’ve been busy

The Ravens defense has been on the field for 1,342 plays so far this season, including the playoffs. Dating back to 2001, that’s the most defensive plays for any NFL team in a single season. Only one other defense played more than 1,300 - the 2011 New York Giants.

Baltimore does not control the clock very well at all. Including the playoffs, the Ravens have allowed an average opponents time of possession of 32:54. Only the Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars have possessed the ball at a lower rate this season.

Baltimore lost the time of possession battle to both the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, though it did have the ball for 2:06 more than the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

They’re allowing lots of yards, but in smaller chunks

The Ravens defense finished the regular season allowing 350.9 yards per game, 17th in the league. It was their worst finish since 2002, snapping their streak of nine straight seasons ranking among the top 10 in the league in yards allowed.

In the playoffs, Baltimore is allowing 415.0 yards per game, up more than 60 yards from its regular season total, but that’s not the whole story. The Ravens are actually allowing fewer yards per play in the postseason (4.9) than they did in the regular season (5.2).

The difference comes from the fact that the defense has been on the field for 85.3 plays per game in the postseason versus 67.9 plays per game in the regular season, a number no doubt influenced by the double overtime game in Denver.

The Ravens have allowed at least 398 yards in all three of their playoff games this season. They are the only team in NFL history to win three games in a single postseason when allowing 375 or more yards in each game.

Bend, don’t break

The Ravens have a bend but don’t break defense.

They allow opponents to score touchdowns on just 43 percent of Red Zone possessions (including playoffs). That’s the second-best rate in the NFL this season (incl. playoffs). The 43.4 percent red-zone efficiency they had in the regular season has translated to the playoffs, where they have allowed touchdowns on just 40 percent of Red Zone possessions.

Key Stat: Forcing turnovers

Forcing turnovers is crucial to the Ravens success defensively. In games when they have forced two or more turnovers, the Ravens are 10-2 (including playoffs).

When they have forced no turnovers or one turnover, they are 3-4.

The Ravens have forced at least two turnovers in every game en route to Super Bowl XVII (two from the Colts, three each from the Broncos and Patriots). Overall, 22 percent of the Ravens opponent’s drives have ended with a turnover this postseason, the highest rate in the NFL.

They’ve seen running quarterbacks before

The Ravens have had mixed success against running quarterbacks this season. Michael Vick went 23-for-32 for 371 yards and a touchdown (with two interceptions) in a 24-23 Philadelphia Eagles win in Week 2.

They also lost to the Washington Redskins in Week 14.

Vick and Griffin each had 34 rushing yards, combining for 17 carries, with no run longer than 13 yards. Griffin was sacked three times, Vick was sacked twice, with each fumbling once.

Vick finished with a 78.7 Total QBR. Griffin finished with a 42.6 and left for Kirk Cousins, who led the Redskins to the win.

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Ed Reed

Ed Reed has eight career postseason interceptions. He’s one shy of the record for most career postseason interceptions, shared by Ronnie Lott, Charlie Waters, and Bill Simpson.

Reed does not have an interception in his last four postseason games. Teammate Terrell Suggs does have two sacks this postseason. His 12 sacks are tied with Reggie White for third-most in postseason history. The all-time leaders are Willie McGinest (16) and Bruce Smith (14 1/2).