PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 08: Jay Ratliff #90 of the Dallas Cowboys reacts after he sacked Donovan McNabb #5 of the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on November 8, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Cowboys won 20-16. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Playing nose guard, a position in the 3-4 not usually given to high sack totals, Ratliff has gotten to the quarterback four times in 2009; add a forced fumble, a blocked kick and a devastating presence in the middle of the field that can't be quantified, and the Auburn product is looking like a lock for his second trip to Hawaii in February.
The reason for Ratliff's ability this far in 2009 to get to the quarterback, according to the man himself, is DeMarcus Ware. In an interview on The NFL Network recently, Ratliff said that Ware's presence alone opens up the pass rush for others, himself included.
"I think a lot of guys are focusing on DeMarcus Ware and it opens up the door for me," Ratliff said. "We have a lot of great pass rushers here, and when teams key on him, someone's going to step up, someone's going to make something happen."
Ratliff, always an adept run stopper, has relished the opportunities afforded him by Ware's reputation as, very possibly, the most dangerous pass rusher in the game. Namely, the opportunity to blow up the line--which Ratliff does, arguably, better than anyone in the game--and get to the quarterback with a consistency rarely seen from a man in his position.
"I love [playing with Ware]," Ratliff said. "All the attention's on him. No one's really expecting anything out of you. It's easy to get one-on-ones, and that's what every d-lineman dreams of having. We all just try to take advantage of that."