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In Four Plays, Wink Martindale Accomplished What Dean Pees Couldn’t

January 01, 2019 - 10:43 pm

By Joe Schiller

Dean Pees’ tenure as the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens was one that saw success over the course of six seasons but became predicated one glaring criticism.

Late-game lapses.

Antonio Brown’s 4-yard game-winning touchdown catch on Christmas Day in 2016 that sent the Ravens packing after Kyle Juszczyk’s 10-yard run gave Baltimore a 27-24 lead with 1:18 left to play in the fourth quarter.

Or Tyler Boyd’s miracle 49-yard touchdown reception 4th-and-12 with 44 seconds left to play in Week 17 of last season that silenced M&T Bank Stadium and the Ravens’ playoff hopes.

Both serve as haunting memories to the surrounding Baltimore area. Games the Ravens should have won, playoff appearances they should have clinched, given away.

That’s why when  Pees announced his retirement following the 2017 season and linebackers coach Don “Wink” Martindale was hired as an in-house replacement, it was clear from the beginning that the Ravens defense would take on an aggressive approach.

“I think it’s my personality. I would rather attack than I would sit back,” said Martindale back almost one year ago in a one-on-one interview with Garrett Downing of BaltimoreRavens.com. “We’re always going to try to be the aggressors and dictate the game to [opponents>.”

Holding a 26-24 lead late in the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s Week 17 matchup against the Cleveland Browns, the Ravens found themselves in a familiar scenario, but let by a different coordinator.

Much like if you were playing a head-to-head game of Madden with your buddy, if Martindale was going to win or lose this game on the heels of his defense, he was going to do it aggressively. 

Four Plays, Cover 0, three incompletions and a game-sealing interception by C.J. Mosley gave the Ravens their first AFC North division title since 2012.

In the span of four plays, Martindale accomplished what Pees failed to do in the biggest moment.

The Ravens aren’t watching the playoffs from home this season. They’re set to host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday afternoon, a team they defeated just two weeks ago 22-10, led by a dominant defensive performance.

Lacking a true defensive superstar, Baltimore still finished with the No. 1 overall defense in a league that favors the opposite side of the ball. This unit has a swagger and air confidence about them that’s slowed down some of the league’s top offensive units.

Martindale’s accomplished an incredible feat in just one season as defensive coordinator and it’s a large reason why he’ll likely receive head coaching interest this offseason. 

These aren’t the same old Ravens and this isn’t the same old defensive coordinator.