The Ravens closed out their eighth win of the season, offensively, in a fashion that's become a familiar sight this year — a Ravens running back gashing through a tired defense for a long fourth-quarter run
Justin Forsett more than doubled his rushing total on the day with a 44-yard scamper on the game-clinching fourth touchdown drive in the final quarter, while Bernard Pierce added runs of 23 yards and 22 yards as the Ravens extended their lead then ran the clock out.
"We have to close out every game in the fourth quarter so we feel like that's something that's been a point of emphasis for us, to finish," coach John Harbaugh said. "To finish runs, to finish blocks, to finish series, to finish in the red zone, to finish games in the fourth quarter. We were definitely able to do that because of the line and the running backs and the wide receivers."
Those big plays by Forsett and Pierce add to a late rushing attack that ranks third in the NFL in the fourth quarter, according to Pro Football Reference's statistics. The Ravens have run 110 times for 605 yards in the fourth quarter of games, which is the second most fourth-quarter yards in the league behind Seattle, which has 685 fourth-quarter yards on 123 carries, and the third highest yards per carry behind Seattle and the New Orleans Saints.
Of the Ravens' 20 running plays of 20 yards or more this season, nine have come in the fourth quarter, including six from Forsett, two from running back Pierce and one from Lorenzo Taliaferro in the final frame. Forsett is the NFL's third-leading rusher in the fourth quarter, with 348 yards on 50 carries (6.96 yards per carry). Pierce has 323 rushing yards on the season, and 144 have come in the fourth quarter, good for seventh in the league in that category.
There are, of course, some qualifiers. When the Ravens needed to close out a victory in Week 13 against the San Diego Chargers, the running game produced 40 yards in the fourth quarter, but the defense didn't hold up its end of the bargain.
That was the only time in eight tries that the Ravens haven't held onto a lead in the fourth quarter. With the next three opponents ranked 28th (Jacksonville), 15th (Houston), and 26th (Cleveland) in run defense, expect the run game to have the opportunity to close out plenty more on the way to the postseason.