Harbaugh praises secondary following Ravens victory
— Twice during his weekly press conference at the Under Armour Performance Center on Monday, Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh praised the play of his secondary in Sunday’s 19-14 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Competing without the services of its top cornerback, Jimmy Smith, who missed a secondstraight game on Sunday with a back injury, the Ravens secondary held Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, who was sacked three times, to 283 passing yards, one touchdown and a 54.17 completion percentage—the signal-caller’s lowest pass-to-catch ratio of the season.
Baltimore’s effort also represented a significant improvement from the week before against the Dallas Cowboys, when rookie quarterback Dak Prescott threw for over 300 yards and three scores.
“I thought our defensive backs did a much better job in manto-man coverage than the week before. Yesterday, they really stepped it up and had some good reps out there so that was good to see,” Harbaugh said. “They gave our pass rush some time.”
Rookie Tevon Young and Shareece Wright both started at cornerback on Sunday, while Jerraud Powers also entered the game at cornerback.
Smith, who was listed as doubtful on Friday, was a game-time decision but ultimately did not play. The former first-round selection suffered the back injury in Week 10 against the Cleveland Browns.
“Guys have had to step up, that’s the thing,” Harbaugh said. “They did a much better job at adjusting this week than the week before. Guys played better, we covered tighter, we were more aggressive. I just like the mentality way better back there this week than last week. The technique was much better, they played with more confidence. That’s how they should play.
“We have good players, guys who can cover back there, and you’d like to see them play to their capabilities, which they did a much better job of doing yesterday.”
Additionally, safeties Lardarius Webb and Matt Elam shared playing time at the nickel corner position.
“Those are different packages that we had in,” Harbaugh said of the nickelback, who traditionally enters the game during obvious passing downs to cover an extra receiver. “Some of the packages are more passing, some of them are more running and have to do with pressure. Some of them are more base calls [and] trying to have guys out there for what they do best [and] trying to get our match ups as best we can, and that’s really what that was. Trying to put guys in position to do what they do best.”
As for the status of team’s top corner, Harbaugh hopes Smith will be available this Sunday against the Miami Dolphins, winners of six straight.
“I was hopeful he would get back. He ran again on Saturday to try and see how well he ran on the ground and he was better, but he wasn’t good enough to play,” Harbaugh said of Smith. “He’s close. He’s been able to run for about a week, so we’ll see.”
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Baltimore Ravens cornerback Shareece Wright breaks up a pass intended for Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver James Wright (86) during the third quarter on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.