It had literally been a long time coming for Ravens veteran nose guard Ma'ake Kemoeatu.

In his return to the Ravens after being out of football last year and battling injury and weight issues following stints with the Carolina Panthers Washington Redskins, Kemoeatu has started all but three games this season.

He didn't record any sacks, though, until the final game of the regular season when he brought down Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton during a 23-17 loss at Paul Brown Stadium.

It was the first sack for Kemoatu since the 2005 season, the final year of his first stint with the Ravens.

"I'm feeling good, feeling great," Kemoeatu said. "It's important as we try to make this run."

Kemoeatu registered four tackles, two for losses, against the Bengals, ending an up-and-down regular season on a positive note.

"Everything is tweaked up just right, everybody knows where they need to be and what they're supposed to be doing," said Kemoeatu, who has 29 tackles this season. "Of course, it took the whole season, but I feel like the defense has got everything down at the right time to make a run."

The Ravens finished the season ranked 17th in total defense, allowing 350.9 yards per game.

After struggling markedly for a great portion of the season, the Ravens allowed the fourth-fewest yards per game (299) over the last six games.

"That's what I mean with the tweaking of the defense has gotten better and better even though we had some major guys go down with injuries," Kemoeatu said. "The young guys stepped up and did what they needed to do."

awilson@baltsun.com

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