Baltimore's awesome defense could be enough to win it all
By John Donovan, CNNSI.com
OAKLAND, Calif. -- Before every playoff game this season, Baltimore tight end Shannon Sharpe has taken to asking the Ravens' defensive coordinator, Marvin Lewis, how many points Sharpe and the offense need to score to win.
With Lewis' defense, it's never many.
So Sunday, in the aftermath of Baltimore's 16-3 whooping of the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Championship Game, the question went out to the record-setting Baltimore defense.
How many points do you guys need from the offense to beat the New York Giants in the Super Bowl?
"As many as we can get," said defensive end Rob Burnett. "As many as we can get."
But, Rob, give us a minimum. What are the fewest points you can live with from the Baltimore offense and still beat the Giants?
"As many ...," Burnett said.
You don't need many, do you, Rob?
"No," he said, smiling and rubbing his head.
After shutting down the AFC's best running game Sunday, holding Oakland to 24 rushing yards, the Ravens head into the Super Bowl as high as they've been all year. They may not be the early favorites. Their struggling offense probably will prevent that.
"It doesn't take a whole lot of points in the playoffs when you're playing with our defense," Sharpe said. "We don't try to be fancy. We score 10, 13, 15 points and that's it. It's enough to let our defense do the job."
If there was one clear message coming from the Ravens after winning the AFC title, it's one of increasing confidence. Even without a decent offense, they've been able to advance to the first Super Bowl in the franchise's history. Even without a decent offense, the Ravens have beaten Tennessee and Oakland, both of them on the road and both favored against the Ravens.
So, they figure, even without a decent offense, they can beat the Giants. Everybody in the Baltimore locker room believes it.
"Can a defense win the Super Bowl?" defensive end Tony Siragusa asked, repeating a reporter's question. "Damn right a defense can win the Super Bowl."