With backup quarterback Case Keenum starting his first game for the St. Louis Rams Sunday, the Ravens defense knew the key to stopping the Rams offense would be to slow down running back Todd Gurley.
They did just that, holding him to 66 yards on 25 carries with a long of seven yards in what was Gurley's worst game as a starter and one of the crowning performances of the season for the Ravens defense.
"The thing I'm more proud about than anything … is the way we got to the ball," coach John Harbaugh said. "You may get a couple yards there, but we had 10 guys rallying and putting helmets on the ball after the first guy was wrapping him up. I was really proud to see that."
Gurley entered the game fourth in the NFL with 709 rushing yards this season, despite starting just six games. Though he scored his sixth touchdown of the season, he never broke his signature big run.
Harbaugh said nose tackle Brandon Williams "was a big part of that in the middle," and he continued his standout season with seven tackles, one tackle for loss and a forced fumble.
"He's a handful in there," Harbaugh said. "You can say you can double-team him. You can say you know where you think he is at all times, but getting the job done is a little different."
Williams deflected credit, like Harbaugh saying it's something the entire defense prides itself on. They knew they'd have to stop Gurley, and wide receiver Tavon Austin (Dunbar) on reverses, to get off the field. Austin had 16 yards on his only carry.
"We know that any time [Gurley] touches the ball, he has the ability to make a big play," Williams said. "They play off of that, and when you stop that, it's hard to come out and throw it over our heads when we're smashing the run."
Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan, who was in on four stops, said stifling backs like Gurley is the "standard around here."
"That's our goal, week-in, week-out," Jernigan said. "Nobody runs the ball on us. That's what we kind of hang our helmet on, especially going against a guy like Todd Gurley and the offense they have. That says a lot about us."
Outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw said Gurley and Austin were the Rams' whole offense.
"We know we've got to slow them down," Upshaw said. "I felt we did a good job."