OWINGS MILLS, Maryland — Having already placed his name in the Baltimore Ravens record book, Elvis Dumervil has turned his attention toward getting the team into the postseason.
With 3 1/2 sacks against Miami last Sunday, Dumervil broke the team single-season record of 15 set by Peter Boulware in 2001. Dumervil now has 16 sacks, one short of his career high and tied for the NFL lead with Justin Houston of Kansas City.
The lofty total can be attributed to a rigorous offseason training regimen, hard work and good health.
"It's like the stars are aligning, but the most special thing that could happen is we get into the playoffs," Dumervil said Wednesday. "The record's been broken. I haven't really dwelled on it too much or soaked it in. We've still got three critical games left. More than anything, to have that record at the end of the year and make a deep run in the playoffs, that's the goal."
Baltimore (8-5) hosts Jacksonville (2-11) on Sunday. The Ravens trail Cincinnati by a half-game in the AFC North and are right in the middle of the crowded wild-card hunt.
Dumervil came to the Ravens as a free agent in March 2013 following a now infamous snafu by his agent, who failed to fax paperwork to the league office in timely fashion. That ended Dumervil's seven-year run in Denver, where he earned three Pro Bowl invites and was an Associated Press first-team All-Pro in 2009.
In his first season with Baltimore, he had 9 1/2 sacks, 31 tackles and two forced fumbles — decent enough numbers, but not up to his standards. Not only that, but the Ravens missed the playoffs for the first time in six years.
After finally adjusting to a new defensive scheme, Dumervil sustained a high ankle sprain late in the 2013 season. He missed a game against Minnesota in December and had only one sack over the final seven weeks.
During the offseason he put a priority on working hard enough to get in good shape without putting undue stress on his 30-year-old body.
"Recovering better, eating better and really working smart. Those things played an intricate part in this whole process," Dumervil said.
At training camp, he went up against second-year right tackle Rick Wagner on a daily basis. The duel made both of them better.
"He made me sharpen my talents," Dumervil said.
"I definitely knew this summer he was going to have an awesome year," Wagner said. "Sometimes it's just impossible to block him. It's good to see him beating some of the other tackles in the league instead of me all the time."
Although he's only 5-foot-11, 255 pounds — considerably smaller than the typical size of a sack specialist — Dumervil uses that to his advantage.
"As I watch him rush the passer, I see where it's a benefit to him," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "And then he's got ridiculously long arms and a very powerful lower body. He can go underneath the block and tilt the offensive tackle's balance."
Said Hurst: "He gets a good jump off the ball. He's a lot smaller than most guys but he has the same amount of power as a big guy. He can get under your pads and push you back. He's really tough to get leverage on."
Dumervil chose to come to Baltimore last year primarily because the team has long been known for its defense and usually finds its way into the playoffs. He now stands alone atop a list that includes some of the team's greatest players: Boulware, Terrell Suggs, Ray Lewis, Michael McCrary and Trevor Pryce.
"I had the franchise record in Denver (17 in 2009) before a good friend of mine, I call him my little brother, Von Miller, broke it (in 2012)," Dumervil noted. "I've been in this situation before, and this time around I'm more grateful because this organization has a proud defense. To own a prestigious record like that, it's huge, man. It's humbling."
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