As the Baltimore Ravens offense has excelled during the postseason, much of the focus has been on the improved play of quarterback Joe Flacco. There is, however, another player stepping up in the playoffs, with Bryant McKinnie taking over as a starter in the postseason and playing well.
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After not starting a game during the regular season, McKinnie has started all three games during the playoffs. The Ravens shuffled their offensive line during the regular season, trying to find the right combination. When the playoffs started, McKinnie took over at left tackle, with Michael Oher shifting to right tackle and Kelechi Osemele moving inside to guard. Since then, the Ravens' offense has found its stride with McKinnie protecting Flacco's blindside.
Baltimore has allowed just four sacks in its three playoff games, one of which came late in the AFC Championship after the game was already in hand. As SB Nation's Baltimore Ravens' blog Baltimore Beatdown noted, the change was a result of better conditioning and motivation.
As it turns out it was a matter of conditioning mixed with lack of motivation culminating in a number of problems that kept McKinnie off the field. Then toward the end of the season coach Harbaugh and "Big Mac" had a meeting in which McKnnie expressed his desire to play more and Harbaugh told him "then practice harder". So he did.
McKinnie and the Ravens will have their hands full against a tough 49ers defense. Baltimore Beatdown took a closer look at the 49ers defense with a position-by-position breakdown. The blog also did the same for San Francisco's offense and special teams.