Ravens run the ball 12 straight plays, 42 times in win

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - By SEAN GROGAN sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com

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.”

Fol­low Sean Grogan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

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.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.