In their last three games against New England — including a 33-14 win in the playoffs two years ago — the Ravens have sacked Brady nine times and forced him to commit seven turnovers. Couple that with Pagano bringing a more aggressive style than former coordinator Greg Mattison and it’s not difficult envisioning the Ravens putting heat on Brady despite the Patriots having a stout offensive line. The featured matchup will be New England left tackle Matt Light trying to slow down Pro Bowl linebacker Terrell Suggs.
After failing to record a sack against Houston quarterback T.J. Yates in the divisional round, instead content to drop into coverage against the rookie, the Ravens will need to turn up the heat on Brady to find their way to the Super Bowl.
“You don’t want him back there just like, ‘Oh, we’re just going to play catch today,’” said Suggs, who recorded 14 sacks in the regular season but just one in hist last four games including the win over the Texans. “You don’t want him to get in his zone, so to say. I think pressure is going to be crucial, but it’s always crucial.”
The Ravens understand what’s in front of them. They must compete against the most explosive offense they’ve seen all season, but the lack of attention paid to their defense will certainly be used as motivation for a group that’s always thrived on emotion.
In the Ravens’ minds, people can continue to focus on Brady and Welker and the two tight ends; Baltimore is very confident in the likes of Suggs and Lewis and two other Pro Bowl players in defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and future Hall of Fame safety Ed Reed.
For all the star power in the New England huddle that will pose an immense challenge, the Ravens know the Patriots will have their work cut out for them as well on Sunday.
Even if few are talking about it.
“We couldn’t care less about what people think about us across the league,” Reed said. “It’s not about what people think on the outside of this building. It’s about us proving to ourselves what we can do and knowing what we can do and going out there and proving it.”
And the Ravens will try to prove that the archaic way of winning championships can still apply in this new era of high-powered offenses in the NFL.