Ravens' defense shows toughness on home turf

The Baltimore Sun

It's common knowledge in the NFL that the Ravens have had one of the most dominating run defenses over the past decade.

But what goes unnoticed is that their run defense is even more stout at home.

If the Washington Redskins' Clinton Portis lines up at M&T; Bank Stadium - he has been battling injuries but has yet to miss a game this season - he'll try to do something no running back has been able to do in three seasons: gain 100 yards on the Ravens' home turf.

The last back to do so was Houston's Domanick Davis in 2005, but that comes with an asterisk. Tommy Polley was filling in for Ray Lewis at inside linebacker that game.

With Lewis manning the middle, the Ravens have gone 28 straight home games without surrendering 100 yards to a running back.

The list of backs who have failed includes LaDainian Tomlinson, Curtis Martin, Tiki Barber, Edgerrin James, Brian Westbrook, Willie Parker and Jamal Lewis.

The last running back to reach 100 yards against a Ray Lewis defense in Baltimore was Kansas City's Priest Holmes. It happened Oct. 4, 2004, which is so long ago that current starting defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was a sophomore in Oregon at the time.

In fact, the Ravens haven't allowed a back to crack 50 yards over nearly half (13 games) of that 28-game streak.

That suffocating trend has continued this season. The opposition's top running back has averaged 40 yards at M&T; Bank. The Ravens haven't allowed a touchdown in five home games and a span of 100 carries.

It's become such a futile endeavor that most teams ultimately give up trying to run against the Ravens. Teams average 20 carries against the Ravens at home this season, which is seven fewer per game than the league per-game average.

Portis, who has been bothered by knee, back and neck injuries, represents the Ravens' biggest challenge at home this season. He is just one of three NFL running backs who average more than 100 yards.

"Clinton Portis, regardless of what you may think of his injuries and stuff in the past, he's still one of the top running backs in the league," defensive end-linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "He's arguably probably the best right now."

But when it comes to defending its home turf, the Ravens' defense takes it to the extreme.

grounded in baltimore

With Ray Lewis in the lineup, the Ravens have allowed only five running backs to break 80 rushing yards against them at home since 2004:

Running back Team Year Yards

Priest Holmes Kansas City 2004 125

LaDainian Tomlinson San Diego 2006 98

Jamal Lewis Cleveland 2007 92

Edgerrin James Indianapolis 2005 88

Julius Jones Dallas 2004 81

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