With their run game struggling, the Ravens shuffled the deck and found their ace.
Baltimore deactivated starting running back Justin Forsett and gave Terrance West the job with Buck Allen as his backup.
West made the move pay off, running 21 times for a career-high 113 yards and a touchdown in a 28-27 loss to the Oakland Raiders. It marked his second career 100-yard game in four seasons.
In a game in which Baltimore struggled to find consistency in the passing attack, the Ravens relied on the running game that had fallen flat in the first three weeks.
"We were looking for a spark more than anything," Head Coach John Harbaugh said when asked about deactivating Forsett. "You've got to try to do something. You try all the things and then sometimes you try to do something else too."
The Ravens entered the game with the league's No. 25-ranked rushing offense, averaging just 82.3 yards per game. They were No. 29 in the NFL in yards per rush (3.3).
West and Forsett had a virtual 50-50 split of the carries in the first three weeks. West had averaged 3.6 yards per rush compared to Forsett's 3.2.
In his fourth season, West showed more of an ability to make defenders miss, as well as more power. The Ravens also wanted to see what Allen, who was a healthy scratch the first three weeks, could do.
But Sunday's game was less about Allen's first chance and more about West's breakout. When the Ravens coaches gave the players the game plan, they said they were making changes at running back. On Saturday, West was told he would be the starter.
"I just took advantage of the opportunity," West said. "It was a great opportunity, but I wish that I could trade in all the stats for a win."
This week, West said it was difficult to get into a rhythm when he was splitting carries. He was the clear lead back on Sunday and proved he deserves another shot at being the workhorse.
West had just five carries for 26 yards in the first half. He ran for 87 yards in the second half.
"I've been that type of back my whole career," West said. "I'm not a rotation back. I like to feel a defense out. I get stronger as the game goes on."
West ripped off 41 yards on the Ravens' first touchdown drive, which came in the third quarter via a seven-minute, 13-play series. He opened it with runs of 12 and 14 yards, though he got saved when center Jeremy Zuttah recovered a fumble at the end of the second run.
A hard 9-yard run in the red zone set up quarterback Joe Flacco for a fourth-down quarterback sneak for a touchdown.
"You could kind of feel the momentum of the game shift," fullback Kyle Juszczyk added. "Terrance, I was so proud of him. He ran great, but it really starts up front. I thought the offensive line played well, stayed with their blocks and did a great job against a really aggressive defense."
After the defense scooped up a fumble deep in Oakland territory in the fourth quarter, West punched it into the end zone on three carries. He was hardly slowed as he ran between the tackles for a 3-yard touchdown to give the Ravens a momentary 27-21 lead.
"I think our run game got some chunks today for us," Flacco said. "I think that got us going a little bit, and that helped us out when it did get going. Hopefully, we can find some more of that."
The Raiders entered the game with the third-worst run defense in the league, so the Ravens are going to have to prove they can keep running next week, and the week after.
Allen ran three times for 13 yards and caught two passes for 15 yards. He ran behind his pads and picked up extra yardage by churning his legs through contact.
Harbaugh said the decision is "nothing against Justin Forsett, for sure," and added that he was a stand-up guy who practiced well this week despite knowing he would be scratched from the game.
"Gave Buck a chance, see what he could do, and see if we could kickstart our running game. That was the idea," Harbaugh said. "I think I need to make clear – that doesn't mean we think Justin Forsett was the problem with the running game."