Oct/29/12 08:56 AM Filed in: Ray Lewis
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Jameel McClain knows he is no Ray Lewis.
But McClain emulated the team's injured spiritual leader when he summoned a Ravens front-seven meeting at his home two nights after Baltimore surrendered 227 rushing yards in Week 6 in a 31-29 escape against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Ravens lost again Sunday, getting pounded 43-13 at the Houston Texans as they allowed another 182 yards on the ground.
The Baltimore defense has gone from feared to feeble, from dominant to bent and broken. The Ravens are an NFL version of the 2012 New York Yankees postseason lineup, whiffing on a lot of tackles.
The Ravens missed 21 tackles against the Cowboys along with suffering the possible season-ending losses of Lewis, a 13-time Pro Bowl linebacker, and shutdown cornerback Lardarius Webb, who had eight interceptions in 2011, including the postseason.
The once-proud Ravens have been bludgeoned for a combined 623 rushing yards in three consecutive games — two of them wins — against the Kansas City Chiefs, Cowboys and Texans.
"If we didn't get used to it today, something's wrong," Ravens safety Ed Reed said after Sunday's loss. "Ray is not here. We know Lardarius is out for the season.
"We have to move on and know that those guys will be back around here and motivating and encouraging. Everybody needs to look at themselves and make those corrections that we need to make."
The first step took place before the Texans game, in what defensive end Pernell McPhee described as a defensive come-to-Jesus meeting.
"This will bring us closer together," McPhee says.
The group watched film and worked on fixing mistakes, and McPhee thought its impact was reflected Sunday.
"We were way more disciplined in playing the run," he says.
The Ravens had two consecutive three-and-outs to start the the game before the Texans took over with two interceptions, five front-seven bat-downs of quarterback Joe Flacco's passes, four sacks and a defensive feeding frenzy that limited Baltimore to 201 yards in total offense.
The 43 points allowed by the Ravens were the most since a 44-20 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in 2007.
"Adversity builds character," Reed says.Shifting identity
Baltimore had already flipped its identity from a defensive dominant team to an attack-oriented one relying more heavily on the new alpha Ravens — Flacco, running back Ray Rice and a no-huddle attack that ranks 11th in scoring, averaging 24.9 points a game. They're covering for a trap-door defense.
The 30th-ranked run defense wasn't stopping the run even before Lewis was lost to a torn right triceps injury and Webb suffered a season-ending shredded left knee. The defense has not ranked lower than 10th against the run since 2002.
McClain, now calling defensive signals, is 10 years younger and faster than Lewis but has missed his fair share of tackles. Dannell Ellerbe, who fills McClain's spot on the weak side, acknowledges the overall problem.
"We just want to wrap up ballcarriers and use better fundamentals instead of trying to go for shoulder hits so we can play fast on defense," Ellerbe says.