When he”s kept upright and untouched by opposing team”s pass rushes, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is like kryptonite to even the strongest defenses.
Sacked only 32 times this season, the ninth-fewest in the NFL, Brady threw for 5,239 yards, 39 touchdowns and was only intercepted 12 times.
Given ample time in the pocket, Brady has the accuracy, the arm and the talented targets to pick apart any defense.
In last week”s divisional-round, the Denver Broncos found that out after falling 45-10 to the Patriots, as Brady delivered six touchdown passes to tie a postseason record.
This week, the Ravens defense is presented with the challenge of slowing down Brady for the right to go to the Super Bowl.
Over the past several weeks, the Ravens pass rush has fallen off. Since their nine sack performance on Thanksgiving night against the San Francisco 49ers, the Ravens have complied just 10 sacks in their past six games.
In fact, in last week”s 20-13 victory over the Houston Texans, Baltimore did not record a sack against rookie quarterback T.J. Yates.
Although the Ravens finished tied for third in the NFL with 48 sacks, anchored by All-Pro Terrell Suggs” career-high 14, they can”t leave Brady untouched.
The key for the Ravens will be to pressure, hurry and knock down Brady early and often to prevent him from getting the football out of his hands, likely requiring some creative blitz packages in order to contain the three-time Super Bowl champion.
Brady has an assortment of weapons that includes: wide receiver Wes Welker (122 catches, 1,569 yards and nine touchdowns) and tight ends Rob Gronkowski (90 catches, 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns) and Aaron Hernandez (79 catches, 910 yards and seven touchdowns).
In five career games against New England, the aforementioned Suggs has 19 tackles, including a sack in three consecutive games against the Patriots with two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
The Patriots finished the season ranked second in total offense, averaging 428 yards per game, 317.8 through the air and 32.1 points per game.