Gus Edwards was ready to rumble Sunday.
With starting running back Mark Ingram II sitting out Sunday's game, Edwards had an opportunity to roll and he didn't waste it. He exploded through holes, sidestepped tackles and led the Ravens' rushing attack with a career-high 130 yards on 21 carries during a 28-10 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Now comes the part of the season that the 14-2 Ravens have worked so hard for, entering the postseason as the AFC's No. 1 seed. Edwards could play a key role in the Ravens' postseason, with Ingram recovering from a calf injury suffered Week 16 against the Cleveland Browns.
Ingram is confident he will be ready for Baltimore's first playoff game, and the Ravens having a bye next weekend gives Ingram an additional week to heal. However, Edwards showed he is ready to fill whatever role the Ravens need.
He was the workhorse back down the stretch for Baltimore last season, starting the last seven games and helping the Ravens make a successful push to the playoffs. This season as Ingram's backup, Edwards had fewer carries (127) than last season (137), but Sunday showed that Edwards is still ready to rumble.
"Gus, to me, is a starting running back in this league," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He continues to prove it. He proved it last year. To see him in there carrying the load like that, not surprising. Nobody thought for one second it would look any different."
It was fitting that Edwards was the ball carrier when the Ravens set the NFL record for team rushing yards in a season. It happened on a 9-yard run in the second quarter, putting any doubt to rest early that the Ravens would reach the mark.
"It was in the back of everyone's mind – I'm just proud we were able to do that," Edwards said. "It's something that we'll be able to look back on and have forever."
Edwards set the tone for his big day on Baltimore's second drive, breaking into the clear for a 38-yard gain that set up a Justin Tucker field goal.
The only thing Edwards wasn't happy about was his fumble in the third quarter when he had the ball punched away by Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt. It's Edwards' second fumble in as many games.
"I think I left a couple of plays out there, I wish I could get that fumble back," Edwards said. "But I feel like we did a good job up front. Guys came with the right mindset. That is a rivalry game and we had a lot to play for."
Lamar Jackson (1,206 yards) and Ingram (1,018 yards) led Baltimore's rushing attack this season, but everyone knew what Edwards was capable of if he got more carries. This was Edwards' turn to lead the rushing attack, with help from quarterback Robert Griffin III (50 yards, eight carries) and rookie running back Justice Hill (39 yards, 10 carries). Griffin enjoyed having a front row seat to see Edwards run.
"Gus, he's built different," Griffin said. "He's a big back. I was a fan out there today, to be honest with you, just handing the ball off watching him run, watching him and Justice. Just to see all those guys out there playing their hearts out in a game that many people, many people believed we didn't need to play hard. Gus, phenomenal running back. I think he's a starting back. I think we all thought that last year also. But to have him and Mark and Justice is truly a treat."
Edwards would take Sunday night to savor this win, but he's hungry for more success and so are the Ravens. Whenever Edwards' number is called during the playoffs, he plans to be ready.
"Coach emphasized using the bye week to get better and I think we're going to do that," Edwards said. "Rest guys when we can, but at the same time we're trying to get better."