Ravens running game needs to improve

Ray Rice and the running game struggled to find much room against Denver a week ago. - Dustin Bradford

The Ravens averaged just 2.8 yards per rush against Denver last Thursday, whereas Joe Flacco attempted 62 passes.

Joe Flacco finished last Thursday's game against Denver with 62 passing attempts.

It was one throw shy of the franchise record of 63 in a single game, set by Elvis Grbac against the Bengals in 2001. That stated, looking back the Ravens realize they weren't able to set a balanced tone with the running game throughout the entire 49-27 loss to the Broncos.

But perhaps it's because nothing opened up, especially after right tackle Michael Oher went out with a sprained ankle. In the first half, Rice had 38 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. He had two carries for -2 yards in the game's final two quarters. Bernard Pierce finished the game with 22 yards on nine carries.

Not all NFL teams feel like they have to run the ball to be to successful. Look at Denver, for example. The Broncos' runners finished slightly higher than Baltimore's, combining for 65 yards on 23 carries. But they also have a standout receiving group, an athletic tight end and one of the all-time greats at quarterback.

The Ravens aren't built like the Broncos. Their receivers need a strong running game to help open up the pass, specifically in the play-action game.

The Ravens will need to establish a run moving forward, something Ravens coach John Harbaugh acknowledged.

"We have to run the ball well," Harbaugh said this past Monday at his weekly presser. "We're definitely not there, in terms of our ability to run the ball; we've got to get better. But, you do whatever you need to do to win the game. I don't anticipate many games where we'll throw the ball over 60 times, but we had 87 plays. Percentage-wise, we'll probably run the ball more most of the time  than we did in this game. If we catch 80 percent of the passes that we dropped, now you're looking at a lights-out performance in the passing game. We've just got to execute better that way."

Follow me on twitter: @JasonHButt

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