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Ravens' defense works at limiting big plays, playing better overall heading into game vs Colts

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OWINGS MILLS, Maryland — The Ravens head to Indianapolis Sunday for a meeting with the NFL's top-scoring offense — a big reason the Baltimore defense will once again focus hard on eliminating the big play.

Quarterback Andrew Luck has guided the Colts to a league-best 136 points through four games even though the Colts are 2-2. The Ravens have played more consistently on defense this season en route to their 3-1 record, but the big plays are coming with less frequency, something Ravens coach John Harbaugh likes.

Harbaugh said if not for some of the big plays his team did give up early, they'd be the NFL's top defense.

"We've made it a big point of emphasis to eliminate those," Harbaugh said. "We're still working on doing that, which I think shows you how hard it is sometimes to get better at things. We've got to keep working on that and hold on to the other things we're doing well at the same time."

The Ravens have given up five touchdowns overall in the first four games, second-fewest in the NFL. Baltimore's also given up an average of 15 points per game, and that's tied for second-least in the NFL.

The defense "is good," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "Would we like it a little bit better? Absolutely. We have not peaked until we can get as good as we can get it."

PHOTO: Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is sacked by Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) during the first half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton (1) is sacked by Baltimore Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) during the first half of an NFL football game in Baltimore, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Ravens have been just about as good as they can get in the red zone, as opposing teams scored touchdowns on just three of 11 trips inside the 20-yard line. That's 27.3 percentage — tops in the NFL.

But all parts of the defense are going to be tested this week because Luck and the Colts are dangerous in so many ways.

Indianapolis is averaging 444 yards per game, 326 passing and 118 more on the ground. That's why the defense knows this has to be a week of limiting both mistakes and big plays.

"I think this is probably the best offense we have to face so far," cornerback Jimmy Smith said. "They have a ton of receivers that can get open, get the ball and score. Everybody has to be on their game this week. Everybody has to know exactly what we're doing, and we can't let (any) balls go over our head."

That's where the big plays come from. Luck knows how to create them, but the Ravens need to keep the third-year quarterback and his offense under control, another big test for this defense.

"Any success in this league is tremendous," Suggs said. "You just want to keep the success going. We definitely aren't satisfied.we want to continue to work so we can get as good as we can get."


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