Despite the Ravens' paltry rushing results through the first three weeks, running back Justin Forsett still felt it was the strength of the team.
It was just a matter of time before Baltimore showed it.
Thursday night in Pittsburgh was that night. In a game that's often defined by the battle in the trenches, the Ravens offensive line beat down Pittsburgh's defensive line and paved the way for a banner day for Forsett.
Forsett ran for 150 yards on 27 carries, the second-highest total of his career behind last year's game in New Orleans (182 yards).
Forsett's 150 yards are the second-most the Steelers have allowed under Head Coach Mike Tomlin (since 2007). Houston's Arian Foster had 155 yards against Pittsburgh in 2011.
"We feel like that's the strength of this team is the running game," Forsett said. "It just didn't pan out the past couple weeks, but today we were able to get it going and now we can build upon that."
The Ravens entered the game near the bottom of the NFL rankings in rushing, a big surprise after being one of the league's top units last year and returning the same top two running backs and starting offensive line (minus left tackle Eugene Monroe since the first drive of the season).
Baltimore was 27th in rushing yards per game (72.7) and 28th in rushing yards per carry (3.3). Forsett's average yards per carry had dropped from 5.4 yards last year to 3.2 this season.
Meanwhile, the Steelers entered the game with the league's 10th-best run-stopping unit, allowing just 87.3 rushing yards per contest through the first three weeks.
"I was hoping they would lean on me a little bit, give me an opportunity, and they did so," Forsett said. "I was able to get some runs in, gash them a little bit. I think the running game was effective each time it was out there."
After calling for passes on the first three offensive snaps of the game, resulting in a three-and-out, Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman established the run game on the second drive. It didn't take off immediately. Forsett's first two runs went for 2 yards, total.
Following a Steve Smith Sr. catch for a first down, Trestman stuck with it and Forsett made it pay off. He ran back-to-back plays for 11-yard gains and Lorenzo Taliaferro followed that up with two solid gains, and just like that, the ground game was off and running.
The Ravens did a good job of changing their protections and running lanes to the Steelers' overload blitzes, which came almost constantly throughout the night. Even when Smith and wide receiver Michael Campanaro left the game due to injuries, and without tight end Crockett Gillmore's strong blocking, the Ravens were able to run even when the Steelers knew it was coming.
Head Coach John Harbaugh gave credit to his fellow coaches for scheming up Pittsburgh's run defense, as well as the players.
"I think our offensive line did a great job," Harbaugh said. "I think Jeremy Zuttah did a great job of holding the nose guard at bay at least and holding the line of scrimmage. I think we did a good job on the backside of cutting off their defensive ends, especially Cameron Heyward."
Forsett had runs of 33 and 22 yards, but his most important runs came in overtime.
He had one for 12 yards on second-and-13 to dig the Ravens out of a hole, then plunged forward for 3 yards and a first down. He picked up another 3-yard gain, followed by 6 more by rookie Javorius Allen to put Justin Tucker in range for the game-winning 52-yard field goal.
"You want to make sure you get in the flow of the game and you're feeling things out," Forsett said. "Unfortunately the last couple weeks we were playing from behind and you can't really do that. It was nice to start early and be effective and get something going."
Check out the best photos from Heinz Field as the Ravens take on the Steelers on Thursday Night Football!