Saturday, April 21, 2018
Sports

Ravens know they need offense

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — For the Ravens, the term "balanced attack" usually means an equal distribution of tackles among everyone on the defense not named Ray Lewis.

The Ravens' strength has long been stopping the opposition. The offense, for the most part, is usually responsible for protecting the ball and cashing in turnovers.

This unsymmetrical arrangement almost certainly must change Sunday against high-powered New England in the AFC Championship Game.

Baltimore beat Houston 20-13 in the division round on Sunday by virtue of another solid day from its defense. Or, in spite of its offense.

The Ravens totaled 227 yards — 109 after halftime. They went three-and-out eight times, averaged 2.8 yards per rush and scored only three points over the final 46 minutes.

That won't be enough this time.

"I think it would be safe to say we are going to have to score points to win this game," said Ravens rookie WR Torrey Smith, who had one catch for 9 yards against the Texans.

"We have one of the top defenses in the league, and we stand by our defense and believe in our defense. They are pretty much the rock of our team," Smith said. "We know we are going to have to help them out a lot."

NICKS FIX: While fans in San Francisco have been celebrating "The Grab" that thrust QB Alex Smith and TE Vernon Davis to the national scene, there's a pair of hands on the Giants making just as much news.

No, not Victor Cruz.

Try Hakeem Nicks.

Nicks came into the season as New York's No. 1 receiver and nothing really has changed despite Cruz's record-setting, 1,536-yard season. Nicks is still Eli Manning's go-to guy, and it has never been more obvious than in the playoffs.

His 13 catches for 280 yards and four touchdowns rank in the top three in postseason statistics, and his four touchdowns are No. 1.

In Sunday's win over the Packers, the 24-year-old scored on a 66-yard catch and run and made a remarkable catch on a 37-yard jump ball in the end zone on the final play of the first half to give the Giants a 10-point halftime lead.

"Honestly, I don't think you've seen nothing yet," Nicks said. "I think I'm just now peaking."

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