Lewis: When Rice Runs We Win

The Ravens are committed to establishing the run in Pittsburgh.

Posted by Garrett Downing on Friday, November 4th, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Categories: Garrett Downing, Week 9 vs Steelers

The Baltimore Ravens have to be able to run the ball.

That was the message from Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis on Friday.

During an interview with Ravens running back Ray Rice, Lewis chimed in with his thoughts about the importance of establishing the ground game.

“Let me put the quote in there that needs to be in there,” said Lewis, who sits next to Rice in the locker room. “When Raymond runs we win. It opens up everything. It opens up [Anquan Boldin] ‘Q,’ it opens up everybody.”

There’s validity to Lewis’ argument.

Only two teams this season have held Rice to less than 50 rushing yards: Tennessee and Jacksonville. The Ravens lost both games.

When the fourth-year running back finds success on the ground, the victories typically follow.

Rice’s best performance of the season came in the 35-7 victory over Pittsburgh, where he carried 19 times for 107 yards and one touchdown, and also caught four passes for 42 yards and a score.

The key to the success against Pittsburgh, Rice said, was simple.

“It was just execution,” he said.

The Ravens have been one of the only teams to run the ball effectively against the Steelers, which have one of the top 10 run defenses in the NFL.

The Steelers have only allowed three 100-yard rushers in their last 58 games, dating back to 2007. Rice is responsible for two of those performances, and Texans’ running back Arian Foster also eclipsed the 100-yard mark against the Steelers in Week 4.

In the first Ravens-Steelers game, Rice and backup Ricky Williams combined for 170 rushing yards.

“I just think it was the zone running scheme,” Williams said. “It’s kind of made for 3-4 defenses, and our line did a great job. And I think we kept them off balance in the passing game.”

With the running game working in Week 1, quarterback Joe Flacco also had one of his best days of the season. He threw for 224 yards and three touchdowns.

While matching that Week 1 production will certainly be a challenge, Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said that establishing the ground game early is a focus for the team heading into Sunday.

“It’s always important to get the running game going,” Harbaugh said on Friday. “It’s easier said than done against a defense like Pittsburgh, but it’s something we’re going to try to do.”

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