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Harbaugh: We Have To Run Ball Better

Posted Sep 7, 2013

Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined for just 58 yards in the loss to Denver.

John Harbaugh was direct in his assessment of the running game after Thursday’s loss to the Denver Broncos.

“I don’t think it was effective enough,” Harbaugh said. “We need to run the ball better than that.”

Running backs Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce had a tough night against the Broncos, combining for just 58 rushing yards on 21 carries. They had little room to work, as the Broncos clogged up holes at the line of scrimmage and often forced the backs to bounce outside looking for room to run.

Rice finished with 12 carries for 36 yards, while Pierce rushed nine times for 22 yards.

“One thing we don’t do is point fingers, so we’ll look at this game,” Rice said. “I haven’t seen the film yet, but I’m looking at it from a chain of events; they scored in the third quarter and then got a punt block and that’s when things started to unravel.”

In the second half, the running game was non-existent.

The Broncos put up points in a hurry, and the Ravens shifted into a pass-heavy approach to try to cut into the lead. The Ravens finished with five rushes for three yards in the second half.

“They threw some new things at us, but I think we just didn’t execute as well as we wanted to,” left tackle Bryant McKinnie said. “It was a combination of both. We’ll just have to watch the film and get it corrected.”

The Ravens threw the ball 62 times on Thursday, which is a career- high for quarterback Joe Flacco. With Rice and Pierce in the backfield, the Ravens want to have a more balanced offensive attack.

Flacco is the driver of the offense, but Broncos linebacker Shaun Phillips said that their strategy coming into the game was to focus on Rice.

“The key was to stop the run,” Phillips said. “No. 27 is a fantastic guy catching the ball, running the ball, so I stopped him first, then tried to get after the quarterback.”

A challenge for the running game is that it was without starting right tackle Michael Oher for the second half. Oher suffered an ankle injury on a 1-yard touchdown run by Rice in the second quarter, and rookie fifth-round pick Rick Wagner replaced him in the lineup.

Oher and right guard Marshal Yanda are known as dominant run blockers, and the Ravens like to run behind the two of them on the right side.

“Michael is our starter for a reason, but I think Rick came in and did a great job being a rookie and being put in that position,” McKinnie said. “He just has to step in and do what he’s called to do.”

The Ravens now have a weekend to recover from the loss before shifting to full preparation for the Cleveland Browns and the AFC North schedule.

“When we look at the tape there is going to be a lot of good, and we know we’ll get the bad corrected,” Rice said. “You have to remember it’s early.”

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