The Ravens' 43-game streak of 100-yard rushing games came to an end last week, but it didn't take long to start up a new one.
Baltimore churned out 187 rushing yards and each of its three running backs reached the end zone in a commanding 34-6 win over the Los Angeles Chargers Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
The Chargers entered the game susceptible on the ground with the 32nd-ranked rushing defense and the Ravens took advantage. Baltimore reached 100 rushing yards midway through the second quarter.
After Lamar Jackson's right arm led the Ravens to victories against the Denver Broncos and Indianapolis Colts in back-to-back weeks, it was the rushing attack that was most steady in wearing down the Chargers. Jackson had 167 yards through the air and threw more interceptions than touchdowns.
"It was pretty dope to have those guys running the ball, have those guys hitting the holes, scoring touchdowns for us, making our jobs a lot easier," Jackson said. "I feel like our offense can do it all, not just run the ball. It's not a one-dimensional offense. We can do it all right now."
None of the running backs had eye-popping numbers, but the collective effort buried the Chargers.
Devonta Freeman ran nine times for 53 yards (5.9 per carry). Latavius Murray ran nine times for 44 yards (4.9) before exiting early with an ankle injury. Le'Veon Bell rushed eight times for 18 yards (2.3). Jackson added eight carries for 51 yards (6.4).
Murray put the Ravens on the board first, capping their opening drive with a 14-yard run up the gut practically untouched. Bell got in next, prancing into the end zone from two yards out. Then Freeman sunk the dagger in the Chargers with a 9-yard touchdown run around the left edge.
"I've very happy, and they've brought a lot," Head Coach John Harbaugh said of the three veteran running backs.
"For these guys to come in, all of them in a place where they felt like they had something to prove, and they were sort of cast away [from other teams], just a little bit. For this opportunity to come up the way it did, God works in mysterious ways, and He brought them here. To see them do what they did today and what they're going to do for the rest of the season is a pretty cool story. I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out."
Harbaugh said Murray's ankle injury wasn't too serious by first indications, but the Ravens could have yet another running back on the mend after losing J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and Justice Hill to season-ending injuries. There is no hand-wringing, however, after General Manager Eric DeCosta added the three former Pro Bowl veterans to the room earlier this season.
Under Offensive Coordinator Greg Roman, the Ravens have built a rushing scheme that has overpowered the rest of the NFL on numerous occasions. It might not be as powerful as years past considering the injuries, but there's no doubt after Sunday's win that it can still mow down the competition if it's not up to the task or chooses to back off and cover the pass.
"That's really a good running team," Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said. "When you factor in Lamar and what he brings to the game, it's just a really prolific rushing attack. I felt like at times we played well, and I thought, at times, we were a little uneven. We didn't give up any explosive runs in the game. Our edges were pretty secure. They really threatened your leverage with all the jet motion, all the different personnel groupings."
After weeks of seeing opponents sell out to stop the run, Jackson said the Chargers focused on taking away his deep passing attempts Sunday. The Ravens had 62 yards on the ground on their first offensive drive. They had 86 all of Monday night against the Colts.
"We really started fast, and it starts with the offensive linemen," Freeman said. "Those guys do a tremendous job every single day, and it starts with them. So, when they're clicking on all cylinders, we're able to do our jobs. So, that's what makes it a lot easier for us."
As the Ravens running backs get more time in Baltimore's system, they'll continue to get stronger. And as the weather turns colder down the stretch, the Ravens will lean heavily on their makeshift running back corps.
"We, as a whole, in the running back room, can take it to another level," Freeman said. "We've been doing a whole bunch of learning."