Ravens’ O-Line Anchoring Offense

Baltimore’s unit has shown its ability to pass and now run block without Gaither.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Tuesday, October 12th, 2010 at 12:34 pm | Categories: Ryan Mink

The Ravens’ passing game has had its lapses. The run game wasn’t jumpstarted until this past Sunday.

Baltimore’s offensive line may be its best and most consistent unit thus far this season.

Against the Steelers, the Ravens’ line showed it can protect against one of the most ferocious pass-rushing teams in the NFL. In its latest test versus Denver, it showed it can shift into a bulldozing run-game gear.

“The offensive line is always going to be the key,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “You start with the trenches. When you build your team, you start in the trenches, and the game is won and lost in the trenches. If you can’t win in the trenches, you can’t win.”

The group got a chance to dig in its heels and push against a defense Sunday versus Denver. What resulted was a season-high 233 yards of rushing offense.

“We really put an emphasis on our running game,” guard Ben Grubbs said. “It’s something we’ve done well in prior years, so we definitely wanted to continue that. I think it really starts with a mindset and then solid preparation and execution.”

The Broncos’ defensive line is one of the biggest in the AFC, so Baltimore’s strategy was to get them moving their feet.

Running back Ray Rice ran inside and out for a season-high 133 yards. He was especially encouraged by the fact that he didn’t have to do anything “special.” Rice said it was just a matter of following his blocks.

“I’ve never seen a group work harder,” Rice said after the game. “Stats haven’t shown the last few weeks, but today, if I was to give a game ball, I’d have to give it to them.”

The Ravens’ offensive line got the team game ball after Baltimore’s comeback win against the Steelers because of its pass protection.

Baltimore is ranked third in the NFL in sacks allowed per pass attempt (2.92 percent). They have allowed just five sacks this season, including one to the Broncos and one to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

It’s particularly impressive considering the group is without Jared Gaither. That has moved utility lineman Chris Chester into the starting right guard position and guard Marshal Yanda in at right tackle.

Full back Le’Ron McClain has stood out as well coming off back-to-back Pro Bowls. McClain consistently opened holes for Rice and sprung Willis McGahee for his 30-yard touchdown jaunt.

“You wear on a team the whole game and come the fourth quarter, they’re buried,” McClain said. “In the third [quarter], looking in those guys’ eyes, I knew. I knew it was pretty much a rap.”

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