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Ravens’ defense comes through late as Ravens beat Panthers, 37-13

Per BaltimoreSun:

The foundation of a proud defense held true at a time when the Ravens could have crumbled again in the fourth quarter.

Back-to-back touchdowns off interceptions by Ed Reed and Ray Lewis pulled the Ravens to a surprisingly tough 37-13 victory over the stubborn Carolina Panthers.

With the Ravens holding a far-from-comfortable 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, Reed picked off a pass and ran 19 yards before making a long lateral to Dawan Landry, who raced the remaining 23 yards for a touchdown.

Just 11 seconds later, Lewis intercepted on the next play and rambled 24 yards for the game-clinching score at Bank of America Stadium, where the chant of “Let’s go Ravens” reverberated from thousands of purple-clad fans.

Two interceptions. Two defensive touchdowns. Too much for journeyman quarterback Brian St. Pierre, who was making his first NFL start after signing with Carolina a little over a week ago.

It could have been another fourth-quarter collapse for the Ravens, who had given up a late game-tying or -winning drive in three of their past four games. Instead, it was like old times, with Reed and Lewis leading the charge toward the playoffs.

“To play like this in the fourth quarter and close the game out was huge,” said Reed, who yelled “We let them off the hook” in Atlanta 10 days ago after the Ravens gave up a last-minute game-winning touchdown.

“Coming off the loss in Atlanta, we wanted to build on the season, play better and close out games. We’ve got to do this as a team from start to finish if we want to be competing in late January.”

It didn’t look as if the Ravens were in the playoff race, or a race of any kind, when beaten cornerback Josh Wilson (who was left in man-to-man coverage because of a safety blitz) was chasing rookie wide receiver David Gettis on an 88-yard touchdown reception, the first play of the fourth quarter, which cut the Ravens’ lead to 20-13.

At that time, Lewis said, players on the defense looked at one another and said: “Let’s finish what we started. Never two weeks in a row.”

The Ravens’ defense forced a three-and-out on the next possession before ending those consecutive drives with interceptions.

It marked only the second time that the Ravens had scored touchdowns off back-to-back interceptions (the first was in 2006 in New Orleans). It represented milestone interceptions for Reed (the 50th in his career) and Lewis (his 30th). More importantly, it provided a much-needed shot of confidence into the defense.

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