The Ravens rushed for 242 yards in Sunday’s win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the fourth time they’ve cleared 200 in the past five games.
They’ve won each of the four, and coach John Harbaugh said there’s little question the grinding style breaks down opponents.
“The running game does have that effect,” he said. “It’s tough to stop that … style of play when it’s executed well, with physicality. Our guys are doing that, and I’m proud of them for that. That’s the way we’re playing football right now, but you don’t discount the pass game. There were a number of plays we made in the pass game that were critical plays to stay on the field and keep drives alive.”
In addition to praising his players, Harbaugh gave credit to the variety of runs designed by offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg and assistant head coach Greg Roman.
“It’s not just the same run,” he said. “We have lots of different runs and lots of different blocking schemes. So I think that has an effect also. You don’t always know where the block is coming from.”
He noted that it’s a style his father, Jack — a coaching disciple of hard-nosed Bo Schembechler at the University of Michigan — appreciates.
“To me, it’s good football,” Harbaugh said. “I appreciate the way our guys are playing. I think we can play better football. Terrell Suggs mentioned to me in the locker room after the game that very thing, that when we talk to the guys on Tuesday, this is one of the things we need to talk about.”
No common link among Jackson’s fumbles
Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson mishandled a snap from center Matt Skura in the second quarter Sunday, his ninth fumble of the season and a mistake that set up the Buccaneers’ lone touchdown.
But Harbaugh said there’s no common link among the rookie’s fumbles.
“It was wet. It was a high snap,” he said of the latest. “When you have the option football, and you’re doing it in the gun, the snap is very critical, that it’s in the right spot every time. That’s hard, to chase perfection. We’re chasing perfection on that because the timing of the ballhandling is really precise. The snap was a little high, the ball was slick, it had a little steam on it, it was a quick read. All those things kind of worked against us on that one and we just mishandled it.”
Jackson continues to carry an unusually heavy load in the team’s running attack; he piled up 18 carries against Tampa Bay (three of those were kneel-downs at the end of the game).
But Harbaugh sounded none too concerned. “I really do think it will work out over time,” he said.
Williams steps in for concussed Boyle at tight end
With tight end Nick Boyle sidelined by a concussion against the Buccaneers, Maxx Williams played 43 snaps, his second most of the season.
The Ravens have relied heavily on Boyle since they increased their emphasis on the run, and Williams is the team’s second-best blocking tight end. His performance against Tampa Bay was remarkable given that he was healthy scratch for three straight games in the middle of the season.
“I can’t give Maxx enough credit,” Harbaugh said. He also praised rookie tight ends Hayden Hurst and Mark Andrews for stepping up their blocking.
“It’s one of those unsung things that people don’t see,” he said.
Hurst and Bozeman share time by design
Harbaugh said the Ravens planned to rotate James Hurst and rookie Bradley Bozeman at left guard against the Buccaneers.
Hurst took every snap the previous week in his first game back from a back injury, but he struggled. On Sunday, the veteran played 56 snaps to 28 for Bozeman.
“That was part of the plan,” Harbaugh said. “And we thought it worked out really well.”
Bozeman, a sixth-round draft pick from Alabama, has pushed for a greater role with his steady work filling in at guard. Starting left guard Alex Lewis has missed the past two games because of a shoulder injury.
» When Harbaugh was asked about his reaction to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ victory over the New England Patriots, which made the Ravens’ road to the AFC North title considerably tougher, he joked: “Not one that I would want to share publicly.” He added that the Ravens are fine with their difficult path to the postseason. “Good,” he said. “Make it as tough a possible road as we could have. That’s what our guys thrive on.”
» Harbaugh said outside linebacker Tim Williams is fully healthy, even though he has not played since Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers. Asked what Williams has to do to be active on game day, Harbaugh said: “He has to be one of the best forty-six.”