OWINGS MILLS - The combination of Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce had little room during the Ravens' December loss to the Denver Broncos, held in check by a stout Broncos front seven that controlled the line of scrimmage.
The same duo that combined for 173 yards during Baltimore's wild-card win against the Indianapolis Colts this past weekend was limited to just 58 yards on 17 combined carries, an average of just 3.4 yards per attempt.
Twelve of Baltimore's 17 rushing attempts with Rice and Pierce went for gains of three yards or less, including nine that went for gains of two yards or less.
The Ravens will look for better production from their running game during Saturday's rematch with the Broncos.
Denver hosts Baltimore in an AFC divisional round matchup Saturday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium in Denver.
"We really wanted to run the ball [in the first meeting], and they just did a great job," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "They did a good job against us up front and we couldn't run the ball. You want to be able to run the ball. Most every team would say that. And for us, that's going to be a big part of our formula."
Like it has been for each of the three games since the loss to the Broncos.
Rice rested for most of the Ravens' regular season finale, but he had 107 yards against the New York Giants in Week 16 - the game that followed the loss to Denver - and 70 yards on just 15 carries amid the win over the Colts this past weekend.
The physical Pierce, meanwhile, had 103 yards on 13 carries against Indianapolis, 89 yards on 22 carries versus the Cincinnati Bengals in Baltimore's regular season finale and a career-high 123 yards on 14 carries against the Giants.
Rice and Pierce combined for 1,675 yards and 10 touchdowns during the regular season.
Rice had 1,143 yards and nine scores. Pierce rushed for 532 yards and is averaging more than six yards per carry in Baltimore's last five games.
"Throughout the course of the season, if you look at it as a whole, we've been pretty consistent with the run game," Harbaugh said.
But Denver's been equally consistent - if not more so - stopping the run.
The Broncos limited opposing ball-carriers to just 3.6 yards per carry during the regular season, the lowest-such mark in the AFC, and just one of Denver's last 10 opponents has had a running back exceed 56 yards on the ground.
"They're excellent, obviously," Ravens center Matt Birk said. "For us, It starts with being physical and then just executing and winning our one-on-one tackles. You know, up front, if we can cover guys up and do our job, that gives our running backs - Ray and Bernard - a chance to do the things that they're capable of doing."
It will help having Pro Bowl right guard Marshal Yanda this time around. Yanda, regarded as the team's top run blocker, was sidelined by injury for the first meeting with Denver, as was tight end Ed Dickson, who's proven valuable as a run blocker throughout the course of the season.
"Just like any week, we just need to get leverage in our run game and just getting moving on our double-teams," Yanda said. "Guys with one-on-one blocks need to sustain and we need to get to moving on our double-teams and just roll."