The Ravens gained 174 yards on the ground Sunday, over 100 yards more than their average for the season coming into the game. Ray Rice had 131 of those yards himself, the first time in 2013 he’s put up more than 74 in a game.
So, it seems fair to ask: Is the run game back?
Well, let’s hold the phone just a bit. Those numbers came against the Chicago Bears defense, which was ranked 31st in the NFL against the run after 10 weeks.
Still, Ravens fans are eager to grasp at any silver lining we can in this haze of a 2013 season.
“We did a better job on our combination blocks,” John Harbaugh stated to the media on Monday.
The offensive line was attacking their blocks and finishing them. That included Marshal Yanda, who had his best game of the year, A.Q. Shipley and yes even Gino Gradkowski, who had big blocks. According to Pro Football Focus, 123 of running back Ray Rice’s season-high 131 rushing yards came when he ran through the A-gap on either side of Gradkowski.
While it is way too early to think the Ravens running woes have been solved, yesterday’s game against Chicago does provide one thing. Confidence!
Confidence can be a very powerful emotion and something that Rice and his offensive line absolutely need after a grueling season thus far. It was clear with Rice’s comments after the game he was happy with the way they ran the ball. However, he of course acknowledged that not getting the win was the most important thing.
“Our O-line got a hat on a hat,” Rice said. “Under the circumstances, with the weather, we knew we had to run the ball and we did a good job today. We’re heading in the right direction. I’d love to get the win, but it’s just the way that things have been shaking lately. Needless to say, we are getting better. I’m not going to say any more about that. We are getting better. We’ve shown a lot of drastic improvement in the run game today and that’s something we’ve been criticized [for], so for us to go out there and do what we did in the run game, that’s a positive. Like I said before, before I talk about any stat, the only thing that really means anything to me is the ‘W.’ So, it’s a tough one, but we have to get ready for the New York Jets next week.”
I am hoping – as are all Ravens fans – that the team can build upon the effort when the Jets come to town this weekend. New York’s stingy run defense is first in the league, allowing just 2.9 yards per carry.
With the Ravens season pretty much on the line from here on out they have to be able to run the football. Though the weather has been unseasonably warm, the temperatures will inevitably drop and the running game will be front and center.
One thing is for sure: I am confident that…I am looking for that silver lining anywhere I can find it.
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