The first group that John Harbaugh highlighted during his post-game locker room speech Monday night was the offensive line.
They deserved it.
The men in the trenches won the battle up front against the Saints, controlling the line of scrimmage and setting the tone in a 34-27 victory in New Orleans.
"Our offensive line did a really great job," Harbaugh said.
The unit opened big holes in the running game and kept quarterback Joe Flacco protected throughout the contest. The Ravens churned out 215 yards on the ground, their highest output of the season.
Running back Justin Forsett had a career-high 182 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries, and he had big holes to run behind for much of the night.
"They're great – the best I've ever been around," Forsett said about the offensive line. "They do a great job of working hard throughout the week, and we come out and produce big numbers. It's all due to them."
The Ravens had four offensive linemen – Marshal Yanda, Rick Wagner, Kelechi Osemele and Jeremy Zuttah – all finish with positive grades according to the analysis website Pro Football Focus.
Establishing the running game was a focus coming into the matchup, especially after the 49ers and Bengals beat the Saints in back-to-back games with physical running attacks. Both of those teams used the ground game to eat up the clock and keep the potent Saints offense off the field, and the Ravens stuck to that script.
"We saw kind of the blueprint from Cincinnati, and we know that for us to win games we have to run the ball well," Forsett said. "We take that mindset every week."
Monday's performance was an ideal display of Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak's system, which is predicated on the run. The line opened lanes for the running backs, and that created opportunities for Flacco in the passing game.
The success on the ground also put the Ravens in manageable situations on third down, and the Ravens capitalized by converting 9-of-13 times on third down.
"The offensive line and the running backs all did a great job, and that's what we've been working on for a while," Flacco said. "It was huge for us."
The Ravens have made a commitment to running the football this season, and Forsett is having the best season of his career. The seventh-year running back has set career highs in carries, yardage and touchdowns, and he's on pace to top 1,300 rushing yards.
His production has increased later in the season, and he's confident he can keep up his pace.
"No doubt in my mind," Forsett said. "I'm excited for the opportunity to show that I can finish, and I take that as a challenge."