Ravens pile up team-record 11 sacks against former coach
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens swarmed around their new defensive coordinator, Don “Wink” Martindale, celebrating after a game that will go down in the record books.
Getting 11 sacks along with a shutout against the man Martindale replaced makes this mark even sweeter.
Za’Darius Smith had a career-high three sacks as the Ravens piled up the franchise-record Sunday in routing the Tennessee Titans 21-0 in the rain, just missing the NFL record shared by five teams by one.
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh called it an “historic defensive performance.”
The Ravens (4-2) smothered Tennessee, allowing just 106 yards of offense while they turned Marcus Mariota’s day into the worst of his NFL career. Eight different Ravens sacked Mariota, and four got their first sack this season at his expense. The Titans never got closer to the end zone than the Ravens 37, each time pushed back with yet another sack.
“We want to be something special out there,” Ravens linebacker Matthew Judon said. “For Wink, it’s great to go against his predecessor, and he stepped up and we came through and pitched a shutout. You don’t ever talk about unicorns while you’re doing it, but we got it done. We got it done for him, and we celebrated after.”
Martindale was promoted to defensive coordinator when Dean Pees retired after last season. His retirement lasted less than a month with first-year coach Mike Vrabel luring Pees to join him as the Titans’ defensive coordinator.
Asked about Pees, Smith only said that the coordinator told him at his pro day at Kentucky that the linebacker would be a Raven.
“Love him to death, but hey, we won tonight, so we’re going to leave it at that,” Smith said with a smile.
The Titans (3-3) had not been shut out at home since the franchise relocated to Tennessee.
“That’s the headline: The ‘Tennessee Titans didn’t do nearly enough on all levels to win the football game,’” Vrabel said. “Or even make it competitive.”
Some things to know about the Ravens and Titans:
Ravens left guard Alex Lewis hurt his neck and went down within the first minute of the fourth quarter. He was strapped to a backboard and carted off the field to Vanderbilt University Medical Center for a CT scan. The lineman was moving his extremities, and Harbaugh said the Ravens were optimistic and would update Lewis’ status after results were available.
Not only did the defense smother the Titans, Joe Flacco helped the Ravens roll up 361 yards and hold the ball for more than 37 minutes. They converted 12 of 17 third downs (71 percent) in a game that felt much more lopsided. Flacco threw for 238 yards and a touchdown, while Alex Collins ran for two TDs.
The Titans now have gone eight straight quarters without a TD, and this was their third game already this season without a touchdown. The franchise had not been shut out since Nov. 28, 2010, in a 20-0 loss in Houston. ... This is the first season that offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur has called plays, and the Titans have a Pro Bowl left tackle in Taylor Lewan, two Heisman Trophy winners in Mariota and running back Derrick Henry, and right tackle Jack Conklin was an All Pro as a rookie.
HOME SWEET HOME
The Ravens wrapped up their season-long three-game road swing by going 2-1. Now they head home to host New Orleans in a stretch with four of the next five at home.
“We know the upcoming challenge,” Harbaugh said. “We know who we’re playing next Sunday, coming into our place and what they’re about, and how good they are.”
Not only was Mariota sacked the most in his career, it was the most sacks allowed by the Titans since giving up seven on Nov. 1, 2015, in Houston. Coach Ken Whisenhunt was fired two days later. These Titans came in having allowed only nine sacks through five games.
“No one’s going to feel sorry for us,” Mariota said. “We’ve just got to go up there and work and grind and get better and find ways to win.”
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker