Coming into this season the Ravens had hoped that their running game would be the strength of this team while quarterback Joe Flacco worked to strengthen his chemistry with all of his new weapons. With an offensive line returning four starters from their Super Bowl team, arguably the best fullback in football, and two productive running backs, there was real hope for this part of the offense to blossom. They have far lived up to the hype, and this past Sunday was a perfect example of that.
The Bills had the second worst rushing defense in the league coming into Sunday’s matchup with the Ravens and it is safe to say their ranking will improve after yesterday. After only running the ball nine times for 24 yards in the entire game, John Harbaugh said it was his decision to not run the ball that much as the game went on. “That’s my call all the way. I just felt like we weren’t running well enough to win,” he said to reporters. The Ravens didn’t run the ball in the second half until midway through the fourth quarter and at one point had 30 passing plays in a row. Clearly Harbaugh wasn’t kidding around when he said he pulled the plug on the running game.
This is very alarming considering that Harbaugh has always believed in having a strong running game, and with the personnel that his offense has to work with it was expected that they would run the ball at least 30 times a game. With the team averaging just 2.6 yards a carry it is hard to argue with Harbaugh’s logic. The only issue is that it allowed the Bills to focus solely on defending the pass, which in turn made it harder for the receivers to get open. It wasn’t as if the team was down by that much. The lead was never greater than 13, so there was no need to panic. Sunday was reminiscent of the game played in Seattle a few years ago where the Ravens completely abandoned the run and still almost won. In both of those games the team ran the ball no more than 12 times and had over 50 pass attempts. That will never be a recipe for success, and you would have thought that Harbaugh learned a lesson that day.
I’d expect to see the Ravens put a lot of emphasis on fixing their run game this week, and I’m sure Run Game Coordinator and supposed offensive line guru Juan Castillo is feeling the pressure this week. There needs to be a solution to this ongoing problem or Flacco is going to be shattering team records this season, and not necessarily in a good way.