When: Sunday, 1:05 p.m., CenturyLink Field
Record: 6-2 and tied for first in the AFC North
Where they rank: No. 16 on offense (22nd rushing, 12th passing); No. 2 on defense (3rd rushing, 5th passing)
Series: Ravens lead 2-1, but the Seahawks won the last meeting 27-6 on Dec. 23, 2007, in Seattle
Star power: Ray Lewis. The Ravens’ roster has a galaxy from which to choose. But none shines brighter – or has shined longer – than Lewis. He’s 36 and in his 16th NFL season, but the middle linebacker continues to make tempo-setting plays. Lewis leads the team with 145 tackles and also has two sacks, two interceptions, two forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Not that this is anything new. Lewis is a two-time NFL defensive player of the year (2000 and 2003), was selected to the NFL team of the decades for the 2000s and has been voted to 12 Pro Bowls. But you have to see him play in the flesh to really appreciate just how physical – and yes, violent – his game is. That chance – likely the final chance at CenturyLink Field – comes Sunday.
Unsung heroes: The offense. The Ravens’ second-ranked defense gets most of the credit, and rightfully so. But since falling behind 24-3 in the first half of their Week 8 game against the Cardinals, the offense has scored 47 points in the past six quarters – or one more than the Seahawks have scored in the first half all season. The Ravens won the game against the Cardinals 30-27 and then pulled out a 23-20 victory over the Steelers in Pittsburgh on Sunday night by driving 92 yards in the closing seconds to Joe Flacco’s 26-yard TD pass to Torrey Smith. Flacco passed for at least 300 games in both games, making him the first Ravens’ QB to do it in back-to-back games since Vinnie Testaverde in 1996, the club’s inaugural season in Baltimore.
On the spot: Ray Rice. He still leads the Ravens with 532 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. But in the past two games, Rice has been criticized in Baltimore for making slow decisions and also has yielded carries to Ricky Williams – yes, that Ricky Williams. This week, Rice runs into a Seahawks run defense that allowed its first 100-yard rusher last week, as well as a season-high 163 rushing yards. But they’re still tied for second in lowest per-carry average allowed (3.4 yards) – with the Ravens.
Burning question: How’s Ben Grubbs’ left big toe? The Ravens’ left guard played in considerable pain against the Steelers and admitted he made it through the game by taking pain shots. The Ravens’ line is simply better with Grubbs a part of it. He missed six games because of that toe, which forced center Andre Gurode to slide over from center to replace him. Flacco absorbed 15 of his 19 sacks in the games Grubb missed.
Number to know: 1. That’s how many touchdowns the Seahawks have scored in three other games against teams from the AFC North this season – a 24-0 loss to the Steelers in Week 2; a 6-3 loss to the Browns in Week 7; and a 34-12 loss to the Bengals in Week 8.
Familiar face: Defensive end Cory Redding played with the Seahawks in 2009.
The last word: “We put the game on our backs every game. We know it’s an offense, special teams, defensive game. But in our minds, the games are won up front. For the defensive side of the ball, that’s what we’re thinking. It’s on us every single game.” – Redding
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