Coming into today's game, Ray Rice joked with his offensive linemen that he needed 102 rushing yards to top 1,000 on the season.
Yeah, he got his 102 - and then some.
Rice rumbled for 153 rushing yards on the game, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Willis McGahee added 7.6 yards per carry on his seven rushes, and the Ravens dominated the Saints in the trenches to the tune of 208 total rushing yards, their second-highest total of the season.
It marked a return to the glory days, when the Ravens' offense would pound away on opposing defenses, churn out tough yards, and control the clock.
"I saw the gameplan; I knew we were going to run the ball today," Rice said. "We knew one thing we would be able to do was run the ball. It wasn't anything against their defense; their defense is ranked pretty high. One thing we had to do was run the ball because they played that man structure.
"Late in the year, it's a mentality thing. It just felt good to know that we said we were going to do something and went out and did it."
The Ravens say that it's always their goal to establish the run and wear down an opponent up front. That might be the case, but up until today, they hadn't seen the results for the majority of the season.
Baltimore entered today with the league's 21st-ranked rushing offense, and Rice had only had one 100-yard rushing game on the year.
Today, however, knowing that they needed to minimize chances for the Saints' high-powered offense, and seeing that they had a chance to be successful against the Saints' front-seven, the Ravens got the job done and dominated the ground game.
The Ravens are now 20-2 under offensive coordinator Cam Cameron when rushing for at least 125 yards in a game, and are a perfect 9-0 when they exceed 190 yards on the ground.
"We certainly hadn't run it the way we wanted to [this season]," center Matt Birk said. "Nothing comes easily in the NFL. If you're frustrated, I don't think a lot of positive things come from that. We just kind of said to our men, 'We've got to get it going, we've got to get the running game going,' and just really had like a laser focus this week in practice. We practiced hard as an offensive line, I mean we were hitting each other and doing some things, and it's just obviously important for a lot of reasons. But the run game helped us win this game today.
"We're at our best when we're balanced on offense, so establishing the run game is important for us."
For seemingly the first time this season, the Ravens were also able to pick up big chunks of yardage through the ground game.
They had three rushes of at least 20 yards, including Rice's 50-yard gain mid-way through the fourth quarter which came just one play after the Saints had tied the game, and set up the go-ahead score.
Coming into today's game, they only had four 20+ yard rushes on the entire season.
"It felt good to be physical and get after those guys," right tackle Marshal Yanda said. "Finally, our runs were substantial, and it takes the pressure off a lot of other guys. It takes the pressure off Joe [Flacco], it takes the pressure off us. When we get to knock guys out, we don't have to pass the ball all the time and get in thing-and-longs. We were in some third-and-longs today, but not as many as we always were.
"To be able to bust them up with the run, it makes everybody's job easier. To have Ray get 1,000 today, that was awesome."