After two games, Baltimore Ravens' defense creating turnovers at historic rate

The Baltimore Sun (TNS)
  • The Baltimore Ravens have forced 10 turnovers in the first two games.
  • That includes eight interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
  • Since 1970, only two other teams have forced at least 4 turnovers in each of their first two games.

Tony Jefferson is happy to be a member of the Ravens. But if there is one regret, it’s that the free safety hasn’t had an interception or fumble recovery.

“Guys are out there making plays. I need to join the party,” he said after Sunday’s 24-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. “I haven’t gotten one yet.”

Baltimore Ravens free safety Lardarius Webb (21) celebrates his interception of a pass intended for Cleveland Browns Rashard Higgins (81) during the second half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.

Judging by the numbers, Jefferson’s time may be coming. For the first time in franchise history, the defense collected four interceptions and five total turnovers in back-to-back games. The Ravens joined the 1971 Cleveland Browns and the 1992 Pittsburgh Steelers as the only NFL teams since the 1970 merger to produce at least four turnovers in each of their first two games of the season.

While calling those performances “exceptional,” coach John Harbaugh said he was not shocked by the defense’s takeaways.

“I see how fast we play and how hard we play,” he said Monday. “Our guys are instinctive kind of players, so I’m not surprised by it. It was there in the preseason also. We just got to keep building on it in every way. You’re going to do it in different games in different ways. Different things are going to come up and you’re going to win games every kind of different way during the course of the season.”

The Ravens lead the league by a wide margin in takeaways with 10 and interceptions with eight. The Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday’s opponent, ranks second with five turnovers.

Slot cornerback Lardarius Webb and cornerback Brandon Carr have two interceptions each, and four others also have an interception. Defensive tackle Michael Pierce and outside linebacker Matthew Judon have recovered fumbles.

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said the current defense is striving to become as stingy and as opportunistic as the 2000 unit – of which some members visited the team prior to Sunday’s game.

“We want to be a ferocious defense, we want to be a pressure defense,” he said. “The standard is very high. You can tell by the guys we had here in the pregame introductions [the 2000 Super Bowl champions]. The standard is very high. It was a good day, but we weren’t perfect. We still aren’t satisfied. We are getting ready for Jacksonville.”