Harbaugh praises secondary following win
— Only eight teams allowed more passing touchdowns than the Baltimore Ravens in 2015.
In a season-opening victory against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, they didn’t even give up one.
Led by a new-look secondary, the Ravens limited opposing quarterback Tyrod Taylor to just 111 passing yards, while preventing the mobile signal caller from finding the end zone in an eventual 13-7 win.
“We didn’t get incredible pressure [on Taylor] but we got good pressure. On the play-action passes, they protected really well and our secondary held up really well on the downfield stuff. That was a thing that was good to see,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. “They devised some shots for us and double moves and some high-low type routes that were deep and the safeties and corners did a good job with that.”
On Sunday, the Bills connected for just one passing play longer than 20 yards.
“They hit a couple deep comeback routes on the sideline and inside, especially [to receiver] Sammie [Watkins], I think he had two or three of those catches and one that [Ravens corner] Jimmy [Smith] broke up,” Harbaugh said. “We were content to cover those tight but we didn’t want to get beat over the top.”
Some of the praise that Harbaugh heaped on the defense was directed at Smith, who held Watkins, the Bills’ leading receiver a year ago, to just four catches for 43 yards.
“He was pretty much trailing
Sammy Watkins the whole game and four catches, I think, for 43 yards is a pretty significant success for a corner against that player,” Harbaugh said of Smith. “[Smith will] read this and laugh because he can play better. As well as he did he can play better. There will be technique things that he’s going to look at and he’s going to be unhappy about. We have high standards for Jimmy Smith. We think he’s absolutely one of the best, if not right at the top level of corners in the National Football League.”
Across the field, Ravens corner Shareece Wright led the team with 11 tackles. The sixth-year pro resigned with Baltimore in the offseason after starting seven games a year ago.
“He had a bunch of tackles, that was the thing [we saw],” Har- baugh said of Wright. “He covered well, too. Maybe that’s the thing we didn’t notice because he wasn’t targeted as much [Sunday], but he was in tight coverage the whole game, played all his zone coverages.”
While Wright and Smith returned, safety Eric Weddle made his Ravens debut after signing with the team following nine seasons with the San Diego Chargers. He teamed up with corner-turnedsafety Lardarius Webb to give Baltimore two new members on the backend of the defense.
On Monday, Harbaugh referenced communication as key to the unit’s season-opening success.
“It was very organized,” he said of the secondary, which allowed the fewest passing yards of any defense on Sunday. “We were on point with everything we did. Even the things that we didn’t like ... we were all the same page, coaches and players is what I mean by that, coming off the field [and making adjustments]. When you have smart players on the back end like that, that’s a big advantage.”
The Ravens secondary won’t have to wait long for their next test as they travel to play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday. Baltimore will face quarterback Josh McCown, who will play in place of injured signal caller Robert Griffen III.
Last year, McCown threw for 457 yards and two touchdowns in a Week 5 victory over Baltimore. His big day passing marked the third-most single game passing yards the Ravens allowed in franchise history.
Baltimore Ravens cornerback Shareece Wright recorded a team-high 11 tackles in Sunday’s 13-7 win over the Buffalo Bills.