Baltimore Ravens: After Injuries, Where Does the Defense Go from Here?

Jeremy SickelContributor IIIOctober 14, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 14: Linebacker Ray Lewis #52 of the Baltimore Ravens looks into the stands before playing the Dallas Cowboys at M&T Bank Stadium on October 14, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Baltimore Ravens won, 31-29. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Baltimore Ravens held off the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday for a 31-29 victory to improve to 5-1 on the season. However, that's the only good news to draw from this game.

The Ravens were dominated by the Cowboys in all the critical areas. And if it weren't for Dallas' penchants for committing penalties, a record-tying 108-yard kickoff return by Jacoby Jones and Dez Bryant losing his concentration for one last play, Baltimore would have lost.

More pressing than their lackluster play, however, are the potential serious injuries (via Jeff Darlington of to linebacker Ray Lewis (tricep) and cornerback Lardarius Webb (knee), which could have a lasting effect on how the rest of the 2012 season plays out for Baltimore.

The Ravens defense already hasn't quite been itself in 2012. So if the injuries to Lewis and Webb threaten their seasons, the Ravens' chances in the AFC take a drastic hit.

Through six games, the Ravens are allowing 396.7 yards per game. And though their 19.7 points per game yielded is very respectable, it is only a matter of time before teams are able to capitalize on the scoreboard against this defense—resulting in more losses for Baltimore.

However, the offense has done a great a job of picking up the slack with quarterback Joe Flacco and Co. leading the way. The Ravens are averaging 385 yards and 26.8 points per game, both good for ninth in the league, so far, this season.  

But, the offense can't be counted on to keep this team afloat. It may keep them in the conversation, but the defense will be what helps separate the Ravens from the New England Patriots and Houston Texans once the postseason starts.

The Ravens are already without outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, who is still recovering from a torn right Achilles and isn't expected back until sometime after the bye in Week 8.

The short-term prognosis for Baltimore's defense looks dire with a road game next week against the Houston Texans.

After the Kansas City Chiefs and Dallas Cowboys have reeled off back-to-back 200-plus rushing yard performances against this unit, Arian Foster could be set up for a big game next Sunday against the Ravens.

Losing Lewis and Webb—and with Suggs' return up in the air—may create a little uneasiness for this team. But, the Ravens are well-coached and have a two-game lead in the AFC North, which could allow for a hiccup or two as things get sorted out with the defense.

But when playoff time comes, Baltimore will need more than its offense to make this season a success.


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