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Ravens could not plug leaks in run defense in Sunday’s loss to Chicago Bears

Bears running back Jordan Howard cuts outside Sunday, evading the Ravens' defensive line and setting up for the game-winning field goal in OT.
Bears running back Jordan Howard cuts outside Sunday, evading the Ravens' defensive line and setting up for the game-winning field goal in OT. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

With less than six minutes to go in overtime, Ravens strong safety Eric Weddle appeared to have Chicago Bears running back Jordan Howard lined up for a minimal gain from Chicago's 7-yard line. But Weddle's unsuccessful attempt to strip Howard of the ball allowed Howard to run 53 yards down the left sideline to the Ravens' 40.

Seven plays later, the Bears used a 40-yard field goal from kicker Connor Barth to escape M&T Bank Stadium with a 27-24 win and leave the Ravens defensive players to wonder how they surrendered a single-game, franchise-worst 231 rushing yards.

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"I've got to look at the film," said free safety Tony Jefferson, who made four tackles. "I can't tell you exactly how that went today. I've got to look at the film first, and we have to try to correct whatever needs to be corrected."

Howard finished with season highs in rushing yards (167) and carries (36), and rookie Tarik Cohen added 32 yards on 14 attempts. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs acknowledged that Chicago effectively executed its game plan.

"That kind of running game is very difficult to stop, especially when you have explosive backs like that that can pop it anywhere," he said "You've got to be technically and fundamentally sound and gap sound. They just found some leakage here and there, and they popped a few, especially the one at the end. We're going to go to work, and we're going to get rid of this mediocrity [expletive]."

Added coach John Harbaugh: "Too many yards rushing – I don't know what I saw. We'll look at it. It's not going to be one thing. It's going to be different things on different plays. They blocked well, they had good backs that broke some tackles. That's always how it is when you run the ball for [many] yards."

In the team's three losses, the defense has now allowed an average of 190 rushing yards and 4.4 yards per carry. In three wins, it has given up just 92.7 yards and 4.1 yards per attempt.

But defensive tackle Willie Henry, who had three tackles and a half sack in his first career start, said the players and coaches are remaining calm.

"I don't think we will press the panic button," he said. "There's always stuff we can correct with the right mindset going into the work week and getting things corrected."

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