With a passing game in flux due to the offseason trade of Anquan Boldin and a hip injury to tight end Dennis Pitta, the running game was being counted on to be the rock-solid foundation of the Ravens' offense.
When in doubt, the theory was the Ravens could always rely on a strong rushing attack behind Pro Bowl runner Ray Rice and hard-running backup Bernard Pierce with Pro Bowl fullback punishing linebackers to clear pathways.
It didn't work out that way, though, during a 49-27 blowout loss to the Denver Broncos to kick off the season.
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As the passing game sputtered with plenty of dropped passes as well as two interceptions thrown by quarterback Joe Flacco, the Ravens couldn't fall back on the running game as the game spun out of control after leading 17-14 at halftime.
“I don’t think it was effective enough," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We need to run the ball better than that.”
The Ravens averaged 2.8 yards per carry, rushing for only 58 yards on 21 carries.
They abandoned the run in the second half, running the football just five times for a total of three yards after halftime.
Fullback Vonta Leach isn't worried, chalking it up to just one of those nights.
"No concern here," he said. "We played a good football team and they beat us. It's not time to panic or jump off the ship. We got all our goals in front of us."
The Broncos' speedy linebackers swarmed to the football, preventing the Ravens from getting into the open field with any regularity.
In particular, Wesley Woodyard wasn't blocked often as he recorded 10 tackles, one for a loss.
With such a lopsided defeat and so many changes to the roster this offseason, the questions are already being raised about the quality of this year's team.
“You know, last year this team was gelling," said Rice, who gained 36 yards on 12 carries with a one-yard touchdown run. "One thing we don’t do is point fingers, so we’ll look at this game. I haven’t seen the film yet, but I’m looking at it from a chain of events; they scored in the third quarter and then got a punt block and that’s when things started to unravel.”