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Ravens Run Defense 'Disgusting'


The Ravens defense hasn't looked like the feared run-stuffing unit of past years.

The defense has allowed more than 200 rushing yards in back-to-back games for the first time ever, including a franchise-record 227 rushing yards to the Cowboys on Sunday.

"It's disgusting," defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "We need to fix it right away."

While the Ravens came away with a gritty 31-29 victory to improve to 5-1 on the season, the frustration in the locker room was evident after the defense was gashed on the ground in consecutive weeks. The defense couldn't get off the field in the fourth quarter – twice allowing the Cowboys to convert on fourth down – and an eight-point lead was nearly erased in the final seconds.

It was a performance uncharacteristic for a Ravens defense that is accustomed to being among the NFL's elite.

"We're not happy with how we played on the defensive side of the ball," safety Bernard Pollard said. "We're not. We put ourselves in this position two weeks in a row.

"For a team to come out two weeks in a row and give up 200 yards rushing, that's a pride thing right there. You got to take that personally. Our name is on that. Our name is on this defense."

The Cowboys came into Sunday's game with a clear gameplan to pound the ball on the ground. Typically a pass-heavy team, the Cowboys shifted course and ran the ball 42 times compared to 36 passing attempts.

The ground attack worked, as Dallas averaged 5.4 yards per rushing attempt and running backs DeMarco Murray and Felix Jones both had more than 90 rushing yards.

The running game set up the play-action pass, and quarterback Tony Romo had time to throw and was able to find success through the air late in the game .

"They were able to run the ball and then pass it whenever they wanted," Ngata said. "They had some play-action plays where they had us not rushing as hard because we were playing the run because they were running it so well."

The Cowboys' success came a week after the Kansas City Chiefs also used a ground-and-pound strategy, running 51 times compared to 17 passes. As long as the Ravens continue to give up big yardage on the ground, they can expect to see opponents attack them in that fashion.

"Teams are going to come in and they're going to run the ball because if we show them we can't stop it, teams are going to run it," Pollard said.

The key in stopping the run comes down to tackling, Pollard said. The Ravens allowed the Cowboys' backs to break free after contact, including a 22-yard score by Jones when Pollard missed a tackle.

"We missed tackles, starting with me," Pollard said. "I pride myself on tackling and I didn't get it done. Our team is very talented, our defense is very talented, but missed assignments and missed tackles are putting us in the position where it's a dogfight every game."

The task to stop the run doesn't get any easier next week, as the Ravens will travel to Houston to face a Texans team that boasts one of the league's best running backs in Arian Foster. Foster racked up 132 rushing yards against the Ravens in the playoffs last year, and Baltimore knows he will be a handful to stop again on Sunday.

"It's not something we're liking right now," Ngata said. "Hopefully we can go back to the drawing board, have a good week of practice and make sure that it doesn't happen next week because Arian Foster is a great running back."

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