Game plan in St. Louis should lean heavily on run game

You can blame the Ravens' lack of a running attack last week against the Titans on any number of factors.

Baltimore fell behind in the first half and needed to throw the ball to try and play catch-up; the offensive line was banged up with starting left guard Ben Grubbs out; Tennessee's tough 4-3 scheme and emphasis on slowing Ray Rice made it difficult to get the run game going. All of that factored in.

The bottom line is, with their wide receiving corps banged up, the Ravens have to get more production from the running game. And this might be the week to get back to leaning heavily on Ray Rice and company.

Taking a look at the statistical breakdown I posted earlier, it's clear - at least, it's clear to me - what the Ravens' offensive strategy should be this Sunday in St. Louis: Run the ball, and run it often.

The Rams have the worst rush defense in the NFL through the season's first two weeks, and it's not even close. St. Louis is allowing a whopping 177.5 rushing yards per game, which is even 21 yards more than the team with the second-worst run defense, the Bucs.

Ray-Rice_Purple-Tall.gifThe opportunity is certainly there for the Ravens to have success on the ground, and they feel they're ready to get back to pounding the rock with Rice and bruising fullback Vonta Leach.

"I don't think a lot of adjustments have to be made to crank the running game back up," Rice said. "We're all professionals, so I'm sure (the Titans) film has been corrected. The Rams run a similar front to what Tennessee ran. Obviously, you're going to put some wrinkles in the run game. You're going to try to put in a play or two to mix it up. But at the same time, it's going to be execution. And it's another test for us - being that we're away.

"But as far as making any changes, I don't think we have to change what we're doing. But, we do have to execute. I'll be the guy that's trying to push the run game to get going. Obviously, you know, we'll run the ball. We're pretty successful."

Against Tennessee last week, the Ravens got off to a rough start with the running game and then turned to a passing-dominated attack after halftime. Baltimore had just 26 rushing yards on 11 carries in the first half, and finished the game with just 17 carries for 45 yards.

That strategy not only failed to put points on the board, but it also left Baltimore's defense on the field for long stretches. The Titans had possession for just nearly 36 minutes last Sunday, compared to just 24 minutes for the Ravens.

If the Ravens are able to run the ball effectively this weekend against the Rams, they'll not only have a good chance to put up big numbers, they'll also keep their defense rested against St. Louis' fast-paced offense.

The longer Baltimore can control possession, the longer Rams quarterback Sam Bradford will have to wait on the sideline.

"No. 1, we always want to be able to run the football," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "We have a great fullback, we have great running backs. I think our offensive line is still a work in progress. That's something we always want to do.

"We're going to do everything we can to get Ray and Ricky (Williams) the ball, and get Vonta involved because we could be a very good running team. No doubt in my mind."

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