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Old 11-27-2006, 05:53 AM   #1
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Default Ravens' reliance on run flusters Steelers

Ravens' reliance on run flusters Steelers

By John Harris
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Monday, November 27, 2006


BALTIMORE - Since firing Jim Fassel and assuming the duties of offensive coordinator, Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick is 5-0 and his offense is averaging 27.8 points per game.

Quarterback Steve McNair has also been on a roll during the winning streak, completing 109-of-151 passes for 1,153 yards, six touchdowns and only two interceptions.

After Baltimore's 27-0 shutout of the Steelers on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, Ravens running back Jamal Lewis said Billick deserves all the credit for the offense's resurgence.

"He has a formula," Lewis said.

Take Lewis, for example. He carried the ball 17 times for 66 yards against the Steelers, but he had 13 carries for 61 yards in the first half before the game became a rout.

During a second-quarter Baltimore drive that covered 47 yards on eight plays and resulted in Lewis' 1-yard touchdown run for a 14-0 lead, Billick called six plays, with Lewis running four times up the middle for 17 yards.

"He's sticking with us as far as running the football," Lewis said of Billick. "He's putting us in positions where we're confident why we're running plays and really letting us know the reason why we're doing certain things.

"He's calling the plays and he's letting us know why we're doing this. It's just a confidence thing. Guys are playing for him, and that's big."

Defensive end Brett Keisel said the Steelers knew what was coming: The Ravens would try to establish the run, and that Lewis would be the focal point. That's what made the Ravens' second-quarter drive so demoralizing, Keisel said.

"They were just coming downhill," Keisel said. "I don't know if we were off-balance or what, but that one drive they just ran it right down our throats."

"Nothing tricky. They just ran the ball," outside linebacker Clark Haggans said.

And ran the Steelers right out of the ballgame.

"We play Pittsburgh all the time," Lewis said. "It's a physical game. They know us, we know them. It's one of those things who's going to be the most physical and who's going to jump out ahead, and that's really how it went.

"When we open holes like that and we're gashing them, it gives Coach confidence to say let's keep doing it."

Billick's offense was extremely balanced. On their opening drive, which resulted in a McNair touchdown pass to tight end Todd Heap, the Ravens passed on four of their six plays. McNair opened the drive with a 7-yard pass to Derrick Mason on first down.

Ravens Pro Bowl tackle Jonathan Ogden, who along with Lewis was extremely vocal about the team's offensive struggles early in the season, said Billick's decision to replace Fassel resulted in a more balanced attack.

"We ran (well) in the first half this week and the second half last week. They have to respect it," Ogden said. "And when they respect it, things open up.

"I like going downhill, 'mano y mano,' so to speak, and if you can do it, keep doing it. That opens up a world of opportunity and options for everything else."

Because the Steelers didn't know whether Baltimore was going to run or pass, McNair had a field day. He was 18 of 24 for 140 yards with the one touchdown and wasn't intercepted. He also wasn't sacked, which was a credit to Baltimore's offensive line as much as the Steelers' inability to generate much of a pass rush.

"I think week-in and week-out we're getting better," McNair said. "I think we did well executing today. It felt good. The guys have been blocking their butts off the last four or five weeks, and I think it's been showing. They give me time to do the things I need to do."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_481491.html
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Old 11-27-2006, 11:24 AM   #2
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Default Re: Ravens' reliance on run flusters Steelers

Quote:
"He's sticking with us as far as running the football," Lewis said of Billick. "He's putting us in positions where we're confident why we're running plays and really letting us know the reason why we're doing certain things.

"He's calling the plays and he's letting us know why we're doing this. It's just a confidence thing. Guys are playing for him, and that's big."
what a novel idea. actually teaching while you coach.

im sure willie and ben were wondering why they ran up the middle, threw a 2 yd pass to kreider, and then tried to run up the middle again on their opening drive. i know i was. then to watch the ravens come out and do exactly what the steelers needed to do on their opening drive (move the ball quickly and through the air) was disheartening. i felt this was a "whoever scores 1st wins" game. and it was.

billick getting back to doing what he knows best was an extreme boost for the ravens. their play over the past 5 weeks reflects that.

anyone still holding their breath for mcnair to have his annual breakdown? im not. never was. him and farve may be old, but theyre pretty damn good too.
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Old 11-27-2006, 11:37 AM   #3
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Default Re: Ravens' reliance on run flusters Steelers

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Originally Posted by tony hipchest View Post
anyone still holding their breath for mcnair to have his annual breakdown? im not. never was. him and farve may be old, but theyre pretty damn good too.


And when your D cant hardly lay a finger on him or cover anyone, they make him look that much better.
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