Notebook: Ravens running back Justin Forsett keeps going strong

NEW ORLEANS — Ravens veteran running back Justin Forsett kept smiling on the sideline while blood ran down his nose Monday night at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Although Forsett had hoped not to open the small cut across the bridge of his nose that's rapidly becoming his trademark, he reinforced his season-long upward trend against the New Orleans Saints.


Displaying vision, elusiveness and toughness, Forsett rushed for a career-high 182 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries during a 34-27 victory at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

When asked if this was the best game of his career, Forsett smiled and quickly answered affirmatively.


That included dashing past defenders for a 38-yard run in the first quarter on his first carry of the game. Forsett averaged 8.3 yards per carry and scored untouched on both his touchdowns.

Forsett has emerged as a success story after being cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars following an injury-plagued season and becoming the Ravens' featured back after being signed to a one-year, $730,000 contract in March.

"It's crazy, man just thinking about where I was at this time last year, mostly doing a lot of scout team work and coming in once in a while and doing third downs," Forsett said. "I'm just thankful just for the journey. To just get the opportunity when I thought I would never get it again, it's a blessing."

The 5-foot-8, 197-pound Forsett scored on a 13-yard touchdown run in the second quarter behind key blocks from fullback Kyle Juszczyk, right offensive tackle Rick Wagner and right guard Marshal Yanda.


Forsett has become a popular figure in the Ravens' locker room through his upbeat, humble personality.

"To see Justin go out there and perform the way he did, he deserves every bit of it," Juszczyk said. "Justin is just a guy you want to root for. You're not going to find a harder worker. You're not going to find a better guy. He goes out there and he busts his tail and it makes you want to do the same thing for him."

On both of his touchdown runs, including a 20-yard run to his left in the fourth quarter, Forsett displayed patience and acceleration.

"I think if I'm not mistaken they were both the same play," Forsett said. "It was one we scored on against Tennessee. We had a load on the left side and the right side and the tight ends did a great job of opening up the lanes for me as well as the offensive line. It was pretty clean. I don't think I got touched on both of them."

Forsett has now rushed for a career-high 903 yards and seven touchdowns with five games remaining in the regular season. He's on pace to finish the season with 1,313 yards.

Once thought of as a place-holder during running back Ray Rice's original two-game NFL suspension, Forsett beat out Bernard Pierce and Lorenzo Taliaferro for the starting job when the three-time Pro Bowl runner was indefinitely suspended by the league in September.

Forsett entered Monday with a career-high 721 yards to rank seventh in the NFL in rushing yards.

Forsett said he's determined to prove that he can carry a hefty workload for the Ravens during the stretch run of the regular season as they chase a playoff berth.

"I have no doubt in my mind," Forsett said, "I'm excited for the opportunity. I'm excited to show that I can finish. I take that as a challenge."

Forsett joined the Ravens last spring on a strong recommendation from offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak to coach John Harbaugh. Kubiak coached the former Cal running back with the Houston Texans two seasons ago.

"When you get a lot of opportunities like I've been getting, it allows you to get into a rhythm," Forsett said. "I think that was the case. We were able to get something going early. And then we kept it going all the way into the fourth quarter. So, we all definitely enjoyed that rhythm."

Coverage breakdown

The Ravens' young safeties looked their age on a 26-yard touchdown catch by veteran wide receiver Marques Colston late in the second quarter, when he schooled second-year strong safety Matt Elam and rookie free safety Terrence Brooks.

Colston ran past Elam, who failed to shadow him. And Brooks didn't react in a timely fashion as Colston broke past him in the end zone.

Elam is a 2013 first-round draft pick from Florida who lost his starting job this season. Brooks is a 2014 third-round pick from Florida State.

Wrong angles

When Saints wide receiver Joe Morgan broke free on a 67-yard end-around on the opening drive of the game, veteran cornerback Lardarius Webb stopped a potential touchdown with an illegal horse-collar tackle.

The penalty wound up saving the Ravens a touchdown as they engineered a strong goal-line stand where defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs stuffed Mark Ingram for a loss of two yards.

Later in the first quarter, Webb was beaten in single coverage by Morgan for a 62-yard reception down the middle of the field to the Ravens' 9-yard line. Safety Darien Stewart was nowhere to be found.

The long completion led to Saints quarterback Drew Brees' 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jimmy Graham two plays later.

Beaten inside

When quarterback Joe Flacco got sacked in the second quarter by outside linebacker Junior Galette, it was only partially because of tight coverage downfield by the Saints' secondary.

Usually stalwart left offensive guard Kelechi Osemele whiffed on Galette as he didn't react well to an inside stunt.

Booming punt

Ravens punter Sam Koch booted a 73-yard punt in the first quarter, one yard shy the franchise-record 74 he set in 2008.

Koch entered Monday night with a 46.0 average per punt with a net average of 42.2 yards.

First sack

Rookie inside linebacker C.J. Mosley, one of the top candidates for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, led the Ravens with a game-high nine tackles.

The first-round draft pick from Alabama also recorded the first sack of his career.

Mosley had three tackles for losses and two quarterback hits.

Money matters

The Ravens are $4.287 million under the NFL salary-cap limit of $133 million.

That includes a subtraction of $1.411million in salary-cap space that was held when Rice filed a grievance against the team citing wrongful termination of his $35 million contract. The salary-cap reduction remains in place until his grievance is resolved.

The Ravens also are facing $121,000 injury grievances from former Maryland tight end Matt Furstenberg and wide receiver Mike Willie. The Ravens recently settled a $121,000 injury settlement from former defensive tackle Levi Brown for $63,000.

The Ravens paid veteran cornerback Dominique Franks $33,529 in termination money after he was released.


The Ravens created a net savings of $3.529 million in salary and cap space for this fiscal year when they terminated Rice's $35 million contract.


They also took on $4.755 million in dead money for this year and $9.5million in dead money in 2015, reflecting the prorated portion of the $22 million in guaranteed money already paid to Rice that still counts against the Ravens' salary cap even though he's no longer on the roster.

Should Rice win his grievance against the Ravens for wrongful termination, he would be owed $3.529 million in salary that he was due before the team cut him Sept. 8 when a graphic video surfaced of his domestic-violence incident. The Ravens can carry over any salary cap space they don't use this season for next year.

The top five salary cap figures on the Ravens for this season are: Ngata ($16 million), Flacco ($14.8 million), Yanda ($8.45 million), Suggs ($7.8 million) and Webb ($7.504 million).

A. Brown scratched

Two of the Ravens' recent second-round draft picks were healthy scratches Monday night.

Inside linebacker Arthur Brown, a 2013 second-round draft pick from Kansas State, was inactive after being active for the previous two games. He played on special teams in those games.

The Ravens had safety Brynden Trawick active this game after deactivating him against the Tennessee Titans.

Nose tackle Terrence Cody, a 2010 second-round draft pick from Alabama, was inactive for the second consecutive game since being activated from the reserve physically-unable to perform list.

The Ravens also scratched rookie wide receiver Michael Campanaro, a seventh-round draft pick from Wake Forest. The River Hill graduate has missed three games in a row with a pulled hamstring. The Ravens had hoped he would be cleared to practice last week, but his leg wasn't ready. He's expected to return to practice as soon as this week.

The Ravens deactivated defensive end DeAngelo Tyson, who has been passed on the depth chart by former San Diego Chargers defensive lineman Lawrence Guy, cornerback Rashaan Melvin and offensive lineman Jah Reid.

Reid has a broken hand and recently underwent surgery, but said he expects to play this season.

End zone

The Ravens' captains were New Orleans native Jacoby Jones, tight end Owen Daniels and Ngata. Former Ravens Pro Bowl alternate offensive guard Ben Grubbs was a captain for the Saints … The Saints deactivated wide receiver Robert Meachem, running back Khiry Robinson, cornerback Stanley Jean-Baptiste, cornerback Terrence Frederick, inside linebacker Kyle Knox, offensive tackle Nick Becton and defensive end Brandon Deaderick.



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