Is it a mirage or is the Ravens running game back?

OWINGS MILLS -- Stop the presses, the Baltimore Ravens' smash-mouth running game was revived from a hibernation of nearly two months.<br><br>File that somewhere underneath the good-things-overshadowed-in-a-loss column.<br><br>During the Ravens' 27-26 defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals, the offense gained 192 rushing yards for its second-highest total this season and highest output since an Oct. 10 win over the Washington Redskins.

Yes, they gained all of that prime real estate without All-Pro runner Jamal Lewis as the Bengals looked like they needed a bottle of aspirin and a refresher course in the art of tackling.

"It felt good to play our style of football again," offensive guard Bennie Anderson said. "That's the way this team is made up: to run the football right at the defense and dare them to stop us. They couldn't keep up."

Chester Taylor rushed for a career-high 139 yards on 23 carries, scoring his first touchdown of the season. And newly-signed backup Jamel White gained 43 yards on six carries.

"It's always good when we can run the ball like that, and, if we can carry that over into this week, that would be awesome," offensive guard Edwin Mulitalo said.

On 31 carries against the Bengals, the Ravens (7-5) averaged 6.2 yards, boosted by a long run of 47 yards from Taylor.

In the previous six games, Baltimore had attempted 20 runs for 77 yards, 21 runs for 59 yards, 32 runs for 73 yards, 28 runs for 106 yards, 27 runs for 113 yards and 33 runs for 100 yards.

A renewed emphasis on power football keyed the resurgence.
The Ravens burst off the line of scrimmage adeptly, engaged the Bengals' front seven and reached the second level consistently. For their part, Taylor and White busted decisively into the secondary with little finesse.

"The run was always there for us, we just did it a lot more last week," Taylor said. "When it's getting cold and late in the season, you need that running game to win.

"You can wear down the defense. Our offensive line just kept firing off the ball. They wanted me to do the best I can."
It was a showing unseen for the Ravens in such a long time, even after Lewis' two-game suspension for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy ended.

In a 17-10 win over the Redskins, Baltimore rushed for 156 yards on 43 carries in Lewis' last game before his suspension. The Ravens rushed for a season-high 254 yards on 34 carries in a 23-9 win over the Bengals in September headlined by Lewis' season-high 186 yards.

The Ravens' opponent for Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium is especially vulnerable to a physical running game.

The New York Giants (5-7) rank 26th in the NFL against the run, allowing 134.8 rushing yards per game, 4.5 per carry along with 10 touchdown runs.

"Of course, we didn't do a good job up front against the run," Giants coach Tom Coughlin said. "That's got to be improved."

New York sorely misses All-Pro defensive end Michael Strahan.
The Giants allowed the Redskins to pile up 211 rushing yards on 45 carries last week. The Redskins actually controlled the football for 40:29.

"When I think of teams that don't stop the run, I think about how the offenses did that," Mulitalo. "We've got to do the same thing because a defense isn't going to change that much in one week. You don't want to take anyone lightly, but it could be a big advantage for us."

Aaron Wilson is the chief writer for RavensInsider.Com He is also the Ravens' reporter for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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