Ravens must keep the heat on Brady to cool off passing game

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

View results

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Tom Brady can hurt a defense in a lot of ways.

New England’s All-Pro quarterback can read a defense and understand where each defender will be before the ball is snapped. He can then pinpoint passes or display perfect touch with the deep ball. Against Denver in the divisional round of the playoffs on Saturday, Brady carved up the Broncos for 363 yards and six touchdowns.

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jarret Johnson, whose team plays New England in Sunday’s AFC championship, understands how difficult it can be to confuse the three-time Super Bowl winner.

“You can’t be a wooden Indian in there, like a stick figure,” Johnson said. “You can’t just stand there. You’ve got to disguise, you’ve got to move.”

There isn’t a blueprint or foundation designed to stop Brady, who threw for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns in the regular season. Pressuring Brady will be an emphasis for Baltimore, though the Ravens failed to sack Houston quarterback T.J. Yates in Sunday’s 20-13 divisional round win.

Getting to Brady has been hard to do as the Patriots finished ninth in the NFL in sacks allowed, giving up 32.

“If you let him stand there, he’s going to kill you,” Johnson said.

Johnson said the Patriots’ offense is much like Baltimore’s defense when it comes to preparation. He said New England’s group will examine game film thoroughly until they can point out the tiniest of tendencies which they then exploit.

The key for Baltimore to have a chance at slowing down New England’s attack is to get Brady guessing wrong.

“You’ve got to disguise, you’ve got to move,” Johnson said. “But you can’t show your disguise too early because if he knows what you’re in he’s going to hurt you. Disguise is very important, but you have to do it smart. It’s a very cerebral game, playing against him.”

Baltimore’s pass defense has been efficient, ranking fourth in the NFL by only allowing teams to throw for only 196.3 yards per game.

The last time the Ravens and Patriots met in the postseason was in the wild card round of the 2009 playoffs. Brady finished just 23 of 42 passing for 154 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. He also was sacked three times.

Lessons from ‘Madden’

Though Sunday will be the first time rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith lines up against the Patriots, he said he’s familiar with the opposition thanks to the “Madden” video game series.

“My brother always picks [New England] on Madden,” Smith said, smiling. “They’ve always had the best offense on that game for years.”

The Patriots have an argument that their video game matches their on-field performance. It’s defense, however, hasn’t fared as well this year. Despite posting a 13-3 regular season record, the Patriots' defense ranked 31st in the NFL by giving up 411.1 yards per game.

After struggling to move the ball offensively against Houston, and with Brady quarterbacking New England’s offense, Smith said the Baltimore offense will need to step up and help its defense out by scoring more points than usual. The Ravens haven’t scored more than 30 points in a game since beating Cincinnati 31-24 in Week 11.

“It would be safe to say we’re going to have to score points to win this game,” the University of Maryland product said.

Injury report

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said there were no new injuries following Baltimore’s win over Houston on Sunday. Harbaugh added safety Ed Reed, who injured his ankle trying to deflect a pass in the final seconds against Houston, was doing fine. X-rays on Reed’s ankle returned negative, and no further testing has been scheduled.

Cornerback Chris Carr was a healthy scratch against Houston, Harbaugh confirmed. Carr, who normally is active, was inactive in favor of defensive lineman Brandon McKinney and special teams player/reserve cornerback Danny Gorrer. Harbaugh said Carr is integral against pass-heavy teams, which makes his chances of being active and playing against New England high.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Comments
blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player