Justin Forsett scores twice, defense holds in Ravens' 21-7 win over Titans

It was after another long and grueling training camp practice when veteran running back Justin Forsett stepped in the middle of the Ravens' huddle and talked about leaving a legacy.

Never mind that Forsett was on his fifth team in seven seasons. Months earlier, the 29-year-old was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars, as close to NFL purgatory as it gets. The outside perception was that he was a place holder for the Ravens until Ray Rice returned from his initial two-game suspension.


But that day, surrounded by Ravens players, coaches and staff members, Forsett spoke about not just collecting a paycheck but having an impact. He talked about attacking every practice like you're preparing for the biggest game of your career.

"I think we kind of knew then what kind of guy that he was," Ravens left guard Kelechi Osemele said. "That gave us a good idea of his mentality."

On a day when their defense gave up too much ground early and the offense didn't get going until late, the Ravens were able to put away the struggling Tennessee Titans, 21-7, before an announced 70,914 at M&T Bank Stadium, and their diminutive running back was a major reason why.

Forsett tied the game with a 9-yard touchdown run about midway through the second quarter. He gave the Ravens the lead with an 11-yard touchdown scamper late in the third quarter. He then delivered the final blow to a reeling Titans team with a 37-yard run that allowed the Ravens to take a knee on Tennessee's 2-yard line as the final seconds ticked off.

"It's been a dream come true just to get the opportunity to come out here and play and show what I can do," said Forsett, who rushed for 112 yards and the two touchdowns on 20 carries. "I know I'm going to be protected with my offensive line opening up holes for me, so I'm excited to go out every Sunday."

Forsett, who has established a career high with 133 carries, is also excited to get a week off and rest his 5-foot-8 and 197-pound frame, as were his teammates. The victory over the Titans (2-7) snapped a two-game losing streak and sends the Ravens into their bye week with a 6-4 record.

They are tied for third place in the AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers, surprise losers Sunday to the New York Jets. The Cleveland Browns (6-3) and Cincinnati Bengals (5-3-1) are in first and second place in a division separated by a half game.

"We know it's a tight race. We're not extremely happy with our record right now but we got to keep moving forward, keep working," Ravens tight end Owen Daniels said. "We got this bye to get healthy and to get refreshed and then we have six games down the home stretch."


The Ravens know that any run to the postseason will start with them taking care of their home field and beating up on teams that they should. The Titans, losers of six of their last seven games and with a rookie quarterback in Zach Mettenberger at the helm, certainly qualified.

But the game remained in doubt until Joe Flacco, given time after the offensive line finally picked up a blitz, threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith. That gave the Ravens a two-touchdown lead early in the fourth quarter and capped an afternoon of offensive inconsistency.

"We started to feel we had to grind it out and grind it out, and take our shots where we could," said Flacco, who was 16-of-27 for 169 yards and one touchdown. "It turned out that our best shots were quick-hitters and getting the ball out of my hands, and that's what we were able to do. We were able to grind it out, and then hit Torrey on that shot. And it worked out well."

The game, however, turned on the play of the Ravens' defense. The Titans took the ball on the game's first drive, held it for 16 plays and nearly eight minutes before Tennessee running back Shonn Greene fumbled at the Ravens' 1. On their second drive, the Titans did score on Mettenberger's 3-yard shovel pass to Leon Washington to take a 7-0 lead.

But on their next eight drives, Tennessee managed just one first down. During one stretch of the game, the Ravens held the Titans without a first down for nearly 26 minutes. Mettenberger was just 16-of-27 for 179 yards and one interception — by Danny Gorrer who the Ravens picked up off waivers earlier in the week. Mettenberger was also sacked five times.

"The catalyst was really our defense, obviously," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.


And, of course, Forsett.

Through one quarter, the Ravens had 15 total yards on four plays. At halftime, they had just 86 total yards and they were 0-for-5 on third down conversions.

"We weren't playing very well," Harbaugh said. "We were out of sync, we weren't handling pressures, we couldn't run the ball. … They owned the line of scrimmage there in the first half."

But the Ravens had the game tied, thanks to a gutsy decision by Harbaugh and the speed of Forsett. With the Titans crowding the line of scrimmage on 4th-and-1 from their own 9, Flacco pitched the ball outside to Forsett, who out-ran Kamerion Wimbley to the edge and coasted into the end zone.

"You don't expect it to go for a touchdown," Harbaugh said. "With our history, I was happy to see that it was going to get a first down and it was close. Their end played it really well. To me, it was Justin Forsett making a play."

Forsett made another one on the Ravens' second drive of the third quarter, running to his right, waiting patiently and then finding a hole. Eleven yards later, he was in the end zone and the Ravens led 14-7.

"I don't think we expected them to come out and blitz as much as they did, but we knew that if we just stayed patient, one was going to pop eventually and Justin is a patient guy," said fullback Kyle Juszczyk. "We knew it would happen and it did."

A day earlier on their ride to the team hotel, Forsett brought up to Juszczyk about how few people even expected him to still be on the Ravens' roster. When Forsett left the locker room late Sunday afternoon, he had set career highs in rushing yards (721) and touchdowns (five).

"I feel like the sky's the limit," Forsett said. "We still can improve in some areas. I know I can improve in some areas. I just want to push this thing as far as I can go."