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3. The Ravens looked like a new team because they ran effectively for the first time all season
It was startling to watch Ray Rice burst free for 47 yards through a vast clearing opened by the left side of the offensive line. The Ravens simply haven't done that this season. The right side of the line, aided by a pulling A.Q. Shipley, created just as much space a few plays later when Rice scooted into the end zone untouched.
The trend did not die with that first drive. The line continued to open gashes in the Chicago defensive front, and Rice continued to exploit them like the No. 27 of old.
A chicken-egg debate has gripped Baltimore this season, as fans and analysts have tried to decide whether to blame Rice or the offensive line for the Ravens' shockingly tepid running game.
I've remained in the "both" camp. If the line was blameless, Bernard Pierce wouldn't have fallen off a cliff right along with Rice. But if Rice was fully recovered from his Week 2 hip injury, he wouldn't have entered Sunday without a run longer than 14 yards.
With Sunday's improvement, the answer was again "both." The line clearly gave Rice more room to work. And Rice -- with his hip perhaps nearly mended -- kept his footing and ran through contact when he hit the hole.
This was a banged-up Bears defense that came in with mediocre numbers against the run and one of the least productive pass rushes in the league. So Chicago was ripe for attack, and attack the Ravens did.
It wasn't a perfect day for the offensive line. Eugene Monroe, who has been a bright spot since the Ravens traded for him, allowed two sacks from Joe Flacco's blind side.
But the Ravens averaged more than four yards per carry after coming in at a league-worst 2.8. In the context of this season, that's a significant victory.
November 17, 2013