Har­baugh praises sec­ondary fol­low­ing win

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By JOR­DAN SCHATZ

jschatz@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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

OWINGS MILLS

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.

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY SEAN GROGAN

Bal­ti­more Ravens cor­ner­back Sha­reece Wright recorded a team-high 11 tack­les in Sun­day’s 13-7 win over the Buf­falo Bills.

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