Anatomy of a Play: How the Ravens beat the numbers with their dominant pass rush

In their 37-3 Week 9 thrashing of the Seattle Seahawks, the Baltimore Ravens did something a lot of defenses aren’t capable of doing — they got a sack despite the fact that they were two-short in the protection game.

What does that mean? Let’s get into DI Justin Madubuike’s sack of Geno Smith with 4:01 left in the first quarter.

Pre-snap, the Ravens set up in an overload blitz looking very much like what the San Francisco 49ers do a lot – an overload to the defensive right side, and linebacker Roquan Smith playing stand-up 3-tech to the other side.

At the snap, Smith dropped into coverage as Fred Warner often does, and he took away Jaxon Smith-Njigba as the middle hole defender. Linebacker Patrick Queen replaced Smith as a rusher, but he did so stunting to the overload side.

The Seahawks had a seven-man protection with tight end Noah Fant and running back Zack Charbonnet in the backfield. So, it’s five-on-seven in Seattle’s favor, and the Ravens still won. How did this happen? Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald and outside linebackers coach Chuck Smith drew it up so that undefined pressure (for the offense) removed the numbers advantage. 

  • Roquan Smith’s drop had center Evan Brown and right guard Phil Haynes doubling nose tackle Michael Pierce.

  • Queen’s loop around occupied both Charbonnet and Fant.

  • Odafe Oweh and Kyle Van Noy on the edges took tackles Charles Cross and Jason Peters out.

  • That left Justin Madubuike to throw left guard Damien Lewis aside like the proverbial sack of potatoes to get to Geno Smith.

That’s how you win when you’re two guys short in the protection battle. 

“They’ve definitely got some good players, but it comes down to us,” Van Noy said after the game. “It’s always on the defense – just all of us being locked in, all of us being on one accord [and] all of us just doing our job to the best of our ability. As long as we communicate … Like I said, the biggest thing for us is communication. When we communicate, [when] we’re lined up and ready, I don’t think anybody can take us.” 

Hard to argue the point, and there would be no contrasting voices in Seattle.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire