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Ravens News 11/26: Thanksgiving Trip Up and more

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Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

RB Index, Week 12: How Gus Edwards can be Ravens’ rivalry-game hero - Maurice Jones-Drew

In order for the “Gus Bus” to post new bests this Sunday, Baltimore needs to get its 6-foot-1, 238-pounder running downhill between the tackles with square shoulders early and often. Edwards’ big frame and bruising rushing style have allowed him to rack up 66.7 percent of his rushing yards after contact — the highest percentage of any Ravens rusher this season, according to Pro Football Focus.

If the Ravens feed the big back like they should with 25-to-30 carries, Edwards’ production could catapult far past his current career single-game highs of 23 carries (Week 6, 2018) and 130 rush yards (Week 16, 2019). All of the pressure isn’t just on Edwards, though: Baltimore must start playing better overall football. Focusing on fundamentals and doing the little things right will allow the Ravens to shorten the game with the rushing attack and give them the best chance for success against this vaunted Steelers defense.

The Ravens are going to have some decisions to make this offseason when it comes to the running back position, and this is Gus Edwards’ biggest chance to solidify his place in the backfield and earn himself some well-deserved loot.

NFL Week 12 Thanksgiving Day Preview: Fantasy football advice, betting tips and matchups to watch - PFF


Headline of the game: How do the Ravens attack Pittsburgh’s defense in Round 2?

The Ravens’ offense as a whole has been one of the bigger disappointments across the NFL this season, but they were able to move the ball successfully against the Steelers back in Week 8. Their 5.9 yards per play that week — which ranked fifth among all offenses in Week 8 — remains the highest single-game average that Pittsburgh has allowed this season. Still, the four turnovers killed any chance of a Baltimore W.

Things will look a little different for this matchup, namely due to the injury to tight end Nick Boyle. With Boyle sidelined last week, the Ravens used two-TE sets on fewer than 10 offensive plays for the first time all season. Some of the beef on their offense will be replaced with speed — something that may actually play to their strengths offensively. Baltimore has averaged 5.2 yards per play on runs outside the tackles this season (second in the NFL) compared to just 4.4 yards between the tackles (13th). None of that matters if Lamar Jackson and company can’t do a better job of taking care of the football, though. That will be priority No. 1 on Thanksgiving night.

Baltimore Ravens vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: 3 stats to know from the previous matchup - Aaron Kasinitz

Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt finished with a season-high five quarterback hits

Inside linebacker Robert Spillane starred for the Steelers in the Week 8 win over the Ravens with 11 tackles and an interception return for a touchdown. Defensive end Stephon Tuitt also emerged as a key defender, sacking Lamar Jackson twice.

But Watt, quietly, might’ve disrupted Baltimore’s offense more than any of his teammates.

The All-Pro edge rusher beat Ravens right tackle Orlando Brown a few times in the first quarter to lay hits on Jackson. Midway through that game, Ravens left tackle Ronnie Stanley suffered a season-ending ACL tear, forcing Brown to flip to the other side of the line.

D.J. Fluker came onto the field to fill in at right tackle — and Watt sped past him on several occasions to regularly put duress on Jackson.

Whether the Ravens keep Fluker at right tackle or replace him (perhaps with Will Holden, who rotated into that spot last week), they’ll need to do a better job blocking Watt. Baltimore will be playing without two running backs because of positive COVID-19 tests, and Watt’s the kind of rusher who could upend their chances of finding success with the passing game.

An early look at 2021 NFL free agents: Dak Prescott, Allen Robinson headline a hit-or-miss class of veterans - Cody Benjamin

Edge rusher

Bud Dupree (Steelers)

Shaquil Barrett (Buccaneers)

Matt Judon (Ravens)

Yannick Ngakoue (Ravens)

Ryan Kerrigan (Washington)

Others: Jadeveon Clowney (Titans), Melvin Ingram (Chargers), Everson Griffen (Lions), Justin Houston (Colts)

It’s not nearly as plentiful as the wide receiver position, but it’s close. Pass rushers tend to age well, and here you’ve got a blend of up-and-comers (Dupree, Barrett, Judon) and grizzled vets (Kerrigan, Clowney, Ingram). This group should command a huge amount of combined money, and understandably so.

A Thanksgiving trip: Revisiting Steelers-Ravens and Mike Tomlin’s sideline sidestep in 2013 - Jamison Hensley

“It’s just one of those unfortunate moments of life,” Tomlin said this week. “I was watching the JumboTron and lost track of where I was. Such is life. I really don’t think about it too often at this juncture because I have more pressing business.”

With the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens ahead 13-7 on a freezing night in Baltimore, Jones believed he was going to immediately answer the Steelers’ touchdown in the third quarter with a score of his own.

Jones fielded the kickoff at the goal line, sprinted untouched along the sideline and had no one else between him and the end zone after running past diving Pittsburgh kicker Shaun Suisham — or so he thought. Just 38 yards from the end zone, Tomlin stood in a restricted area that separates the sideline from the playing field, with his back turned to the action and his right foot squarely in the field of play.

“I’m running and I’m like, ‘Are you gonna move?’” Jones recalled recently. “I’m like, ‘He’s not moving.’ So I eased up and moved in.”

Tomlin hopped to his left at the last second, but Jones had to swerve to his right to avoid hitting him. That slight adjustment to his path allowed Jones to get caught from behind by Steelers cornerback Cortez Allen.