Maybe losing your top two running backs isn't such a bad thing after all.
Forced to play without Willis McGahee and Mike Anderson, the Ravens relied on the tandem of Musa Smith and Cory Ross to help build a 20-7 halftime advantage against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium today.
Ross, who was inactive for seven games and not even on the Ravens' roster for two more, rushed for 63 yards on seven carries and dazzled a sparse crowd with a 32-yard touchdown scamper at the beginning of the second quarter.
Ross ranged to his left, cut back up the middle, avoided a diving tackle by a Pittsburgh defender and then feinted his way around Steelers safety Anthony Smith (couldn't guarantee a tackle, huh?) to waltz into the end zone.
Smith carried the ball 14 times for 40 yards and also scored a touchdown on the Ravens' opening possession to give the team a 7-0 lead. By halftime, the Ravens had already compiled 128 rushing yards on 24 carries, averaging 5.3 yards per attempt.
*Earning his first career start in a regular-season contest, David Pittman started opposite Corey Ivy at the other cornerback position. Pittman, who led the team at halftime with five tackles, intercepted a Charlie Batch pass intended for Nate Washington late in the second quarter. Although Pittman was stripped of the football by Washington during the return, Ravens linebacker Nick Greisen recovered the fumble, and the offense converted the turnover into a Matt Stover 31-yard field goal 17 seconds before halftime.
*Rookie quarterback Troy Smith has thrown some impressive passes in the rain, but he's also escaped a few costly mistakes. Cornerbacks Ike Taylor and Deshea Townsend and linebacker Larry Foote either dropped or mishandled potential interceptions.
*Turns out that the No. 84 jersey that offensive tackle Adam Terry wore in practice last week wasn't a joke after all. Terry, who laughed about wearing a number usually reserved for tight ends, was inserted at times as a tight end. Lee Vickers, a converted defensive end, started because Daniel Wilcox (thigh) and Quinn Sypniewski (concussion) were deactivated. Jake Nordin, who was promoted from the practice squad when the team placed Todd Heap (strained hamstring) on injured reserve Friday, backed up Vickers.
*With the Ravens reduced to just two healthy running backs in Smith and Ross, fullback Justin Green was employed as the running back on third downs.