Pittsburgh Steelers fans were not happy once they realized that the Baltimore Ravens would be given a bye week just before their game with the AFC North division leaders. When the Tennessee Titans experienced a Covid-19 outbreak, it forced the league to reschedule games, and that included moving the scheduled Steelers-Ravens game from week eight to week seven, leaving the Steelers to play the Titans in week seven and the Ravens to take that time off.
But they didn’t just get rest. They also got better, as they acquired a new starter on defense in the process, adding Pro Bowl pass rusher Yannick Ngakoue via trade from the Minnesota Vikings. The Steelers are familiar with him from the games they played against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Ngakoue had already recorded five sacks and two forced fumbles on the season before he arrived in Baltimore, and he is going to provide a potent bookmark end for Matt Judon. They may not be quite the duo that T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree are, but bringing him in certainly makes their pass rush something even more concerning.
He spoke to reporters last week following the trade, and said that it was a deal that developed out of mutual interest from both sides—as in, he was interested in leaving the Vikings. It doesn’t hurt that he gets to reunite with Calais Campbell, whom the Ravens also acquired via trade from the Jaguars this year.
A Maryland native, Ngakoue admitted that he grew up as a Steelers fan, but that he watched a lot of Ravens games having come from the Maryland area, and talked about the big perk of the trade being the chance to be close to his mother. But he didn’t come here to share his story.
“Yes, I’m just a guy who wants to make a huge impact. Sacks are cool – they’re really cool to do – [but] getting the ball out is another thing”, he said. “Getting the ball out gives your offense another opportunity to score points”.
“Also, not even just the offense; it gives the other 10 guys around you the energy to keep fighting even more”, he added. “And not even just fight; for them to want to go out there and make plays for themselves. When you see the ball come out, you know it’s going to be a great game. So, I always try to pride myself [on that] and try to force a turnover, for sure”.
The Ravens have 22 sacks on the season so far, among the top in the league, but they have come from all over the place. Calais Campbell is the only player with at least three, and he has four. Marlon Humphrey surprisingly has 2.5, while Patrick Queen, DeShon Elliott, Matt Judon, Tyus Bowser, and Pernell McPhee each have two.