Benson’s 593 yards this season rank a modest 14th in the NFL, but he has gained more yards on the ground than the Ravens’ own Ray Rice (559 yards). And two years ago, Benson became the first back since the Miami Dolphins' Ricky Williams (2002-2003) to gain more than 100 yards in consecutive meetings against the Ravens.
“We’ve got our hands full,” defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano acknowledged during his weekly briefing Thursday. “We’ve played him well last year the two times we played. Then two years ago, both times, he had over 100 yards on us. So he’s more than capable. So we’ve got to go a great job on him.”
Benson is aided by an offensive line that is tied for 10th in the NFL in rushing first downs with 24, according to statistics compiled by NFL.com.
“They’re huge, real big guys up front and they’ve been together for a while now,” Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. “They’re a real physical group, too. It looks like on film, they like to bully guys around. We just have to make sure that we stop that and make sure we stop Cedric Benson.”
Pagano said there will be no confusion about Cincinnati’s strategy on offense – as dictated by head coach and former Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis – this Sunday.
“Marvin, he’s going to come in here and whether we’re playing there or he’s playing here, he’s going to hand the ball off,” Pagano said. “We charted the last four times we played them, and it was 33 rushes a game. So he’s going to pound the ball, they’re going to take their shots, they’re going to throw two or three shots down the field and get the ball out of that kid’s hands and get it to their playmakers.”