Running back Justin Forsett's magical season keeps rolling on, and is reaching new heights.
Just when it looked like his hot start might be cooling, the Ravens' top running back ran 20 times for 112 yards and two touchdowns against the Tennessee Titans.
The 112 rushing yards are a season-high (he had 111 in Tampa Bay in Week 6). It's just the second time Forsett has scored two touchdowns in a game, and first since 2009 when he was a member of the Seattle Seahawks. The Ravens are Forsett's third team since then.
"I feel like the sky's the limit," Forsett said. "We've still got a [few] more games left. We still can improve in some areas. I know I can improve in some areas. I just want to push this thing as far as I can go."
Forsett entered the week fifth in the NFL in rushing yards, and may now climb the ranks after another big game. He's up to 721 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the season. He's now topped his previous season-highs when he had 619 rushing yards and four touchdowns in Seattle in 2009.
Forsett's story has been well-told at this point. The eighth-year professional was cut after just one year in Jacksonville and he thought his career might be done. The Ravens signed him in early April without much fanfare.
It was originally thought that Forsett would provide support during Ray Rice's original two-game suspension, but he's stuck with the team longer than that, become a lead back for the first time in his career and been perhaps the offense's most valuable player to this point.
He was held in check the previous two weeks in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. Forsett rushed for 68 yards against the Bengals and just 38 in Pittsburgh. It led to questions this week about how well his 5-foot-8, 197-pound body could stand up to the beating that lead tailbacks sustain in a 16-week grueling season.
"I want to be able to do more than this in the next half [of the season]," Forsett said. "There's always going to be doubters. There's always going to be people that want to limit me and put me in boxes. It's my job to go out there and try to break them."
Forsett's first touchdown on Sunday came on fourth-and-1 from the 9-yard line. Head Coach John Harbaugh rolled the dice and went for it, and Forsett made the move pay off.
The Ravens faked an inside handoff to fullback Kyle Juszczyk and Flacco pitched the ball outside to Forsett. Titans linebacker Kamerion Wimbley seemed to have the play blown up, but Forsett gave him just a quick jab step and then beat him to the edge outside. He swatted away Wimbley's diving tackle attempt and tiptoed down the sideline for the score, tying the game at 7-7 in the second quarter.
Harbaugh shed credit for going for it on fourth down.
"To me, it was Justin Forsett making a play," Harbaugh said.
"He's the kind of guy that deserves it. He's the kind of guy that has had a really good career. When you watch him on tape, he has always been a playmaker, and now he's getting an opportunity to prove that. He's doing a great job with it."
Forsett's second touchdown put the Ravens ahead for good in the third quarter. This time, Forsett ran it from 11 yards out. He patiently waited for a hole to open, danced through it and slipped between two tacklers at the 5-yard line before reaching the end zone.
Forsett ripped off two carries of 9 yards, one of 13 yards, and then a final blow of 37 yards to help run out the clock and impose the Ravens' will in the fourth quarter.
"When you're running the football, you've got to be physical, you've got to be tough," Forsett said. "You've got to keep chopping. You've got to be persistent. At the end of the game, we were able to run the ball more and be successful."
The only bummer of Forsett's day was that he didn't score a third touchdown. He was caught from behind on his 37-yard run, which put the Ravens on the 2-yard line. He got one crack at the end zone from there but was stopped a yard short of the end zone.
Three touchdowns would have set a new career best.
"I was hoping I'd be able to get into the end zone," Forsett said. "But I'm still excited about what we were able to accomplish today."
Forsett continues to impress his teammates with the season he's had. While Steve Smith Sr. has been the veteran free agent addition that has been proving doubters wrong and getting headlines, Forsett has been just as – if not more – integral to the Ravens' offensive success this season.
"He wasn't 'expected' to do much, but he believed in himself and he just worked his tail off," Smith said.