Showing a determined running style and maintaining a tight grip on the football Thursday, Ravens running back Bernard Pierce followed his shaky performance in the season opener with a strong showing in a 26-6 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium.
Four days after Pierce was benched in the second quarter by Ravens coach John Harbaugh when Pierce lost a fumble during a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, the former Temple standout rushed for a game-high 96 yards on 22 carries.
"I definitely had to bounce back from last week," Pierce said. "What a difference from last week. I knew I was going to get called on and I was really focused to correct the mistakes I made from last week.
"It's nothing personal. It was business, and I didn't take care of business last week. I knew I messed up. It's my job to come back strong next week. I had a job to do. I was counting on, 'Don't do a repeat of last week.' Just hold on to the ball, and everything would be fine."
The Ravens rushed for 157 yards on 36 carries, averaging 4.4 yards per run.
That included a 41-yard run late in the game from backup running back Justin Forsett.
"It was [an] outside-zone [run]. It really opened up," Forsett said. "It was one-on-one with the safety. As a running back, you love that safety in space and you just make a play.
"It's important for us to be successful [in the running game]. This game built upon the second half of last game. We're going to keep moving up. For us to be successful, we have to run the football."
Pierce's longest run Thursday was 17 yards. He seemingly could have gained even more yards, but he missed a few open holes.
"I think our running game was great," fullback Kyle Juszczyk said. "Bernard and Justin really got it going. It starts up front with our offensive line. Those guys are some beasts. This did a lot for our confidence."
Pierce relied upon a bullish, straightforward running style to move the chains, busting through would-be tackles.
"We all knew we definitely had to set it on fire this week," Pierce said. "The performance we did last week was not us."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh noticed a difference in Pierce.
"Bernard bounces back," Harbaugh said. "That shows you his mettle a little bit, and he finished it off in the fourth quarter pretty good, as did Justin."