Establishing the running game was a focus coming into the matchup

Establishing the running game was a focus coming into the matchup

Establishing the running game was a focus coming into the matchup, especially after the 49ers and Bengals beat the Saints in back-to-back games with physical running attacks. Both of those teams used the ground game to eat up the clock and keep the potent Saints offense off the field, <b><a href=""title="Ravens Jerseys">Ravens Jerseys</a></b> and the Ravens stuck to that script.“We saw kind of the blueprint from Cincinnati, and we know that for us to win games we have to run the ball well,” Forsett said. “We take that mindset every week.”Monday’s performance was an ideal display of Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak’s system, which is predicated on the run. The line opened lanes for the running backs, and that created opportunities for Flacco in the passing game.The success on the ground also put the Ravens in manageable situations on third down, and the Ravens capitalized by converting 9-of-13 times on third down.“The offensive line and the running backs all did a great job, and that’s what we’ve been working on for a while,” Flacco said. “It was huge for us.”The Ravens have made a commitment to running the football this season, and Forsett is having the best season of his career. The seventh-year running back has set career highs in carries, yardage and touchdowns, and he’s on pace to top 1,300 rushing yards.His production has increased later in the season, and he’s confident he can keep up his pace. “No doubt in my mind,” Forsett said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to show that I can finish, and I take that as a challenge.”For the first time in NFL history, every team in the division is at least three games over .500.This season’s debate of which division is the best in the NFL may be settled.The AFC North is historically good.With the Ravens’ 34-27 victory over the Saints on Monday Night Football, the AFC North became the first division in NFL history with all of its teams at least three games over .500 at the same time.The Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1) are atop the pack while the Ravens, Steelers and Browns are all tied at 7-4.“You’re going to have to win a lot of games to win the division,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.“You’re going to have win a lot of games to make the playoffs in our conference. It’s just a fact. You’re going to need every win you can get. To get this win was very big. Next week’s going to be even bigger.”It’s not just the AFC North that is tough. Another piece of history was made Monday night. There are now 16 NFL teams with seven or more wins through 11 games, which is the most in NFL history.The AFC West is also bunched up at the top with the Denver Broncos (8-3) leading the way and the Kansas City Chiefs (7-4) and San Diego Chargers (7-4) just one game behind. The Chargers will come to Baltimore on Sunday for another key game.“It’s going to be a dogfight,” outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil said. “That’s what this division is about. That’s why I chose to come here and be a part of that. It’s going to be good to come into our house in front of our crowd.”Part of the reason for the AFC North’s success has been the struggles of the NFC South. The Ravens swept the NFC South division, and the AFC North is 10-1-1 against the NFC South overall.But is the NFC South just that bad or is the AFC North that good?Outside of its games against the AFC North, the NFC South is a collective 12-20 and does have a few quality wins. The Saints beat the Green Bay Packers in Week 8. <b><a href=""title=" Ray Rice jerseys"> Ray Rice jerseys</a></b> The Panthers beat the Detroit Lions (Week 2) and Chicago Bears (Week 5).Safety Will Hill gave the secondary the playmaking spark its been looking for this season.At the beginning of last week, Ravens coaches came to safety Will Hill and asked if he was ready to cover big-bodied Pro Bowl Saints tight end Jimmy Graham.Which Ravens coaches? All of them – even Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak.“For sure,” Hill said. “I looked at Coach and was like, ‘Are you serious?’ I’m always going to bet on myself.”Hill was suspended for the first six games of the season.

Now the Ravens’ faith in him is paying off.On Monday night, Hill added the playmaking dynamic Baltimore’s secondary has sorely lacked, and his 44-yard pick-six turned the tide in the Ravens’ 34-27 victory against the Saints.“Obviously Will Hill’s play was the play of the game,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.“We needed a big play on defense. Not just a stop because we’ve made plenty of stops. Not just a fumble, but an interception. Go grab one and take it the other way. That’s been lacking and that’s something that we needed and it came right at the right time.”Hill had a difficult start to the season as he sat out due to a substance abuse suspension received while he was still with the New York Giants. Hill was one of the league’s best safeties last year, but the Giants let him loose after the discipline.The Ravens added Hill to an already deep safety position group, and it’s proving to be a shrewd move.The 6-foot-1, 207-pounder has rare size for a safety. That’s part of why the Ravens chose him to defend Graham, who may be the league’s scariest matchup nightmare at 6-foot-7, 265 pounds.Hill said the plan was to “beat him up” and talk trash.“A guy like Graham, you have to be physical with him,” Hill said. “He’s a big guy. He doesn’t expect anyone to get up on him. He expects a linebacker to hit him, but a defensive back, he tries to bully. I feel like I caught him off guard a little bit.”Graham did score two touchdowns, but his overall production was limited to six catches for 47 yards. And Hill won his fair share of their direct exchanges.Hill’s first noteworthy play against Graham came in the end zone in the second quarter. Saints quarterback Drew Brees targeted Graham in the end zone, where he’s particularly dangerous because he can sky above defenders.Hill got a hand on the pass and knocked it away, forcing the Saints to settle for a 20-yard field goal. His play directly saved four points.Then, with the game tied at 17 in the third quarter, Hill put the Ravens up for good. Brees was pressured by outside linebacker Terrell Suggs and made a poor throw to Graham. It was too far behind him.Other members of the Ravens secondary have dropped their fair share of potential interceptions, but Hill didn’t bobble this one. He snatched it with two hands (defensive backs often let the ball hit their chest) in stride and took it the other way to the end zone.“As he threw the ball, it was behind him. I saw an opportunity and I just took it,” Hill said.The Ravens secondary has given up too many big plays, especially in critical times this season. In some ways, that continued in New Orleans. The Saints got a 62-yard catch, a 33-yarder and a 26-yard touchdown. Brees threw for a whopping 420 yards and three touchdowns.But this time the secondary struck back with a play of its own. Hill’s interception is only the third of the season for the defensive backs, but the unit has two in the past two games. Recently signed cornerback Danny Gorrer got the other against the Titans before the bye.“We’re NFL defensive backs,” Hill said. “For people to talk about us like we’re little kids, that’s belittling. It’s just time for us to step up and show what we’re capable of.”Former Ravens tackle Michael Oher will make his first return to M&T Bank Stadium since leaving in March.During his five years in Baltimore, offensive tackle Michael Oher gained a reputation with fans for his false starts.When Oher comes back to M&T Bank Stadium for the first time as a member of the Tennessee Titans on Sunday, expect fans to be loud in trying to get him to jump.And count on Oher’s new opponent, outside linebacker Terrell Suggs, to ask officials to watch Oher’s especially quick step, too.“I’m <b><a href="" title="Joe Flacco jerseys">Joe Flacco jerseys</a></b> definitely going to point it out to the referee,” Suggs said. “You want to watch this just a little bit.”Oher actually outgrew his problem with false starts. He had six during his rookie season and eight in 2010, which was tied for the league-lead. But he cut the false starts to four in 2011, three in 2012 and three in 2013. He has just one so far this season.

4 Replies

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