What's Up With Ravens' Rushing Attack?


Two weeks ago, the Ravens had the fifth-ranked rushing attack in the NFL. Three weeks ago, running back Justin Forsett was going for his fourth-straight 100-yard game.

The running game has drastically changed.

On Sunday in Houston, Forsett ran 10 times for just 19 yards. Collectively, the Ravens posted 33 rushing yards. The past two games, Baltimore piled up only 126 yards on the ground.

What was a high-octane running attack has stubbed its toe the past couple weeks, and it's had a ripple effect on the entire offense.

"If we want to do something with this offense, we've got to run the rock," offensive tackle Eugene Monroe said. "Clearly, when we don't do that, we don't have the success we're looking for."

The Ravens gave credit to the Texans' defensive front for bottling up the ground attack on Sunday. They also gave the "salty" Jaguars credit the week before.

But both of those teams didn't enter the game with run defenses that dominated other teams. The Texans had the NFL's 14th-ranked run defense and the Jaguars had the 28th-ranked unit.

Houston entered the game knowing it had to halt Baltimore's ground attack to let the front seven put pressure on quarterback Joe Flacco. The Texans brought a lot of pressure up front, which threw off Baltimore's timing in the zone-stretch run scheme.

The Ravens tried to get the ground game going in the first half before they were so far behind that they needed to start airing the ball out.

They ran on the first two plays from scrimmage, but went for 2 yards, then a loss of 1 yard. Baltimore then gave Fitzgerald Toussaint a shot, but he had just 2 yards on his first carry, then Bernard Pierce lost 2 yards. Forsett ran three more times in the first half, totaling nine yards.

With the run game struggling, Houston's pass rushers took over.

Baltimore's offense is based around running the ball and putting itself in manageable situations to convert on third down. In tough situations, Baltimore went 4-for-15 on third down Sunday.

"We function our best when we're running the football well," tight end Owen Daniels said. "We can do a lot of things off the run. We just couldn't get it going today. They were active up front, physical up front. We knew that, but just didn't do a good job handling it."

Forsett said after Sunday's game that he's feeling healthy. The longtime reserve's body is taking more of a toll than ever before, however. His 218 attempts this season are 100 more than his previous season-high of 118 in 2010 with Seattle.

What has been so impressive about Forsett's running this season is his burst and ability to shed tackles despite his smaller frame. Over the past three weeks, however, Forsett has just two missed tackles, per Pro Football Focus.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I'm ready to go," Forsett said. "The defense did a great job today stopping the run. We got behind and we had to do a little more passing. Sometimes it's like that. We'll find a way to execute and win games and we didn't do that today."

Check out the best photos from NRG Stadium in Houston as the Ravens look to take one step closer to the playoffs by beating the Texans.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content