Ravens run the ball 12 straight plays, 42 times in win
CINCINNATI — Everyone inside of Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium knew what the Baltimore Ravens would do.
With a 17-0 third-quarter lead, Baltimore wasn’t going to pass the football. They’d run it. Again. And again.
The Ravens ran the ball on 12 straight plays during the third quarter of Sunday’s 20-0 season-opening road win over the Bengals. They kept it on the ground for 15 of the 18 plays on the lengthy possession that spanned 81 yards and eliminated nine minutes and 38 seconds from the game clock.
“That was a good drive for us,” running back Terrance West said. “At the end, you’ve just got to hold onto the ball and keep the chains moving.”
Baltimore did not complete a pass on the drive, but the chains kept moving.
West gained seven yards on a third-and-1. Three plays later, he ran for two yards on thirdand-1. And three plays after that, running back Buck Allen carried the ball for six yards on a third-and-4.
Meanwhile, the clock continued to tick as the Ravens continually used all 40 seconds of the playclock.
“I think that goes in the category of doing what it takes to win the game. Our guys did that,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “It was downhill football. The backs ran north and south, they got their pads down and ran upfield, protected the football. The line was physical. It was a very important drive because it took the time off the clock and really put them behind the eight ball in terms of their chances to come back. And we got three out of it. Sure, we would have loved to get seven, but the time plus the three was hugely valuable.”
The possession ended with a 25-yard Justin Tucker field goal after Joe Flacco’s thirddown pass attempt fell incomplete, but a majority of the third quarter had passed and the 20-0 advantage seemed insurmountable against a Bengals offense that turned the ball over five times on Sunday.
“Obviously, when we get to run the ball, it takes the air out of the defense, it takes the air out of the pass rush. It helps our football team,” guard Marshal Yanda said. “They had five turnovers. We’re going to win a lot of football games if they’re going to continue to get turnovers, and we take care of the football. We had one. We were plus-four. I don’t know what the percentage is, but I’m sure it’s over 90 percent when you’re plus four.”
Yanda had recently said that this Ravens team was more committed to the run game than others have been in recent years. Baltimore rushed 42 times for 157 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown from West in the first half’s closing minutes.
The Ravens ran the ball 30 times or more just twice all of last season. Only two teams called fewer run plays in 2016 and just four teams averaged fewer rushing yards per game. Sunday was a step in the direction Baltimore wishes to go, but the Ravens likely wish to improve upon the 3.7 yards per carry average.
“We talked a little bit on the sideline about taking a shot up the sidelines or something like that, but they were still kind of protecting (against) that. The last thing you want to do is drop back, with the mode we were in for a quarter and a half, and do something stupid to let them back in the game or have something crazy happen,” Flacco said. “It was definitely a different game. It was one of our old-fashioned games. It reminded me of my first couple games as a rookie. It was one of those where we had to run the ball late in the game and just run the clock out. It’s good coming here to get a win. I don’t care how you do it.”
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Running back Terrance West led the Baltimore Ravens with 19 rushes for 80 yards and a touchdown during a 20-0 win over the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.