Ravens - Chiefs: 5 Keys to the game

<b>1. Stick with the run, even if it's not working initially. </b><br><br> The Baltimore Ravens win almost every battle of attrition because of burly running back Jamal Lewis. Lewis has averaged 1,585 yards per season and has rushed for a total of 5,062 yards to rank ahead of the other running backs drafted in the first round in 2000.

Despite missing the entire 2001 season, Lewis has outgained Shaun Alexander, Thomas Jones and Trung Canidate. The Ravens improved to 18-5 in regular-season games last week when he rushes for 100 yards or more. And Lewis' running seems to affect the defense positively, too.

During his 23 100-yard games, the Ravens have outscored their opponent 594-340 with three shutouts and seven games of holding their opponents to seven or less points. Against the Kansas City Chiefs' hapless run defense, Lewis should touch the football as much as possible. He's the key ingredient to nearly every victory. No matter how crowded the line of scrimmage gets with Chiefs defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham desperately sending defender after defender on run blitzes, the Ravens shouldn't panic and shouldn't entrust the game to quarterback Kyle Boller.

A year ago, that idea backfired as Boller threw three interceptions while trying to exploit single coverage on tight end Todd Heap. Lewis is the correct answer to almost every offensive question.

2. Contain Priest Holmes to keep the Chiefs winless.

In nine consecutive games, linebacker Ray Lewis and Co. haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher. This season, they're surrendering 95.7 rushing yards per game as Lewis and fellow inside linebacker Ed Hartwell have combined for 74 tackles. Holmes is a top-notch running back, but has rarely had room to operate against Baltimore.

3. Make three big plays, besides Lewis runs.

Whether it's Randy Hymes, a Boller scramble or an end-around from B.J. Sams, someone has to make something happen outside of waiting and hoping for a long Jamal Lewis run.

4. Create favorable field position.

A week ago, Baltimore started its drives on average near the 50-yard line as Sams uncorked a 63-yard punt return. He averaged 21 yards on four punts, returning three kickoffs for an 18.3 average.

5. Limit turnovers.

The Ravens are plus-2 in turnover margin this season and are 40-2 under Brian Billick when having a positive turnover margin.
Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times.

 


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