At 14-2, the Baltimore Ravens had the best regular-season record in the NFL in 2019. Then the Tennessee Titans ran over the Ravens 28-12 in the playoffs.
Baltimore had the fifth-best rushing defense in the league during the regular season, but Titans running back Derrick Henry steamrolled the Ravens for 195 yards on 30 carries.
That performance came a week after the former Alabama All-American ran for 182 yards on 34 carries in Tennessee’s 20-13 playoff victory over the New England Patriots.
If Baltimore wants to have more than a great regular season in 2020, the Ravens need to be ready to stop Henry in the postseason, said Ray Lewis, the most-decorated player in the franchise’s history.
In 17 seasons with Baltimore, Lewis earned 13 Pro Bowl invitations, made first-team All-Pro seven times and helped the Ravens win two Super Bowls. Those accomplishments sent the middle linebacker to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.
In the playoffs for the 2011 season, Baltimore lost 23-20 to New England in the AFC Championship Game. The next year, the Ravens defeated the Patriots 28-13 in a rematch in the conference title game, then beat the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII, which was Lewis’ final game.
Baltimore might have been applying Lewis’ advice before he even gave it. In free agency, the Ravens signed 6-foot-8, 300-pound defensive lineman Calais Campbell, a Pro Bowler in five of the past six seasons, and 6-5, 285-pound defensive lineman Derek Wolfe, a starter for the past eight seasons for the Denver Broncos.
In the 2020 draft, Baltimore used its first-round selection on LSU linebacker Patrick Queen, then took Texas A&M defensive tackle Justin Madubuike in the third round.
Lewis compared Henry, with roster measurements of 6-3 and 247 pounds, to another Titans’ running back that the linebacker had to tackle in his career – Eddie George.