Ravens must follow Broncos' model

Baltimore Sun (TNS)
Denver's’ Von Miller (58) celebrates a sack/strip with teammates on Sunday. The Baltimore Ravens will need more players such as Miller if they are to succeed next season.

If Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome needs to be convinced where the team should spend money this season, then hopefully he watched Super Bowl 50 on Sunday.

Denver's defense isn't as great as the Ravens of 2000, but the Broncos brought back a lot of memories. They forced the Carolina Panthers into submission with two fumbles, one interception and seven sacks.

Final score: Denver 24, Carolina 10.

There isn't much else left to say. The Ravens need to go back to being old school. They have done well in finding defensive talent in the past as opposed to having less success on offense, and have drafted and developed such outstanding players as linebackers Ray Lewis, Peter Boulware and Jamie Sharper, cornerback Chris McAlister and safety Ed Reed.

So, with the overall No. 6 pick in the 2016 draft, let's hope the Ravens can get a pass rusher like Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa or a cornerback such as Florida State's Jalen Ramsey or Florida's Vernon Hargreaves III.

Or maybe somewhere in free agency the Ravens can get a pass rusher to go along with current outside linebackers Terrell Suggs or Elvis Dumervil, or a top cornerback to complement Jimmy Smith on the other side.

I've always subscribed to the defense wins championship theory, which is why I picked Seattle to win the previous two Super Bowls. I got away from that philosophy this postseason, especially in the Super Bowl because I thought the Panthers and quarterback Cam Newton had enough talent to edge Denver.

And then on Sunday, Denver outside linebacker Von Miller and end DeMarcus Ware put a beat-down on Newton. Cornerback Aqib Talib and safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart zeroed in and banged around receivers like they did against New England in the AFC championship game.

Denver's tackling was crisp and the Broncos ball hawked for turnovers all game. That's the way it used to be in Baltimore. That's how the Ravens won a championship with quarterback Trent Dilfer and how Denver won with the ancient one, Peyton Manning.

So, now is the perfect time to go after defensive talent. A team can win a Super Bowl with a serviceable quarterback like Dilfer, Doug Williams, Jim McMahon or Brad Johnson.

But a good defense gives a team instant credibility. It allows a team to take apart an offense like Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips did to Carolina on Sunday.

He sometimes put Talib on Panthers tight end Greg Olsen. He moved Miller around and sometimes used him in the middle as a spy on Newton. Not only did Denver collapse the pocket outside, but up the middle too with end Malik Jackson.

But despite the Broncos touting how great their defense was after the Super Bowl, they aren't in the class of the 1985 Chicago Bears or the 2000 Ravens. In fact, I still think the Panthers have a better team, but Denver's defense was the most dominant unit on the field.

And Carolina imploded. The Panthers dropped a lot of passes. They stunk on special teams, giving up one big punt return and missing a field goal. Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula should have called his iconic coaching dad Don Shula at halftime to find out how to run some slants, draws, bootlegs and waggles to offset the Denver pass rush, and get Newton outside the pocket more on designed runs.

Poor Cam Newton. He had a meltdown and was erratic throwing the ball, and he tried to give himself an excuse by clutching his left shoulder in pain in the second half. But for him not to jump on his own fumble late in the fourth quarter was disgraceful. He acted like Superman and his fumble was Kryptonite.

Unless he wins a Super Bowl, football fans won't forget that moment. That will go down in Super Bowl history like Miami Dolphins kicker Garo Yepremian's attempted pass in Super Bowl VII or Joe Gibbs' "Rocket Screen" call in Super Bowl XVIII.

Sometimes a player needs to be humbled before he matures; maybe this was Newton's moment.

And maybe, just maybe, Denver's win Sunday was the turning point for the Ravens because no one knows Newsome's plans. But I do know some of those dropped Panthers passes were from fear and that bewildered look on Newton's face was from being smacked around. The Panthers were used to doing the punching, but this time the Broncos were the bullies.

Denver played Ravens football. The Broncos were intimidating and they had swagger. It's what we're used to seeing in Baltimore.

It's time for a return to that style.