Ravens' J. Lewis frustrated by lack of inside runs

PITTSBURGH -- Jamal Lewis issued no complaints about the blocking, only the designated path he was supposed to run through.<br><br> The Baltimore Ravens' star running back was effectively bottled up by the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 20-7 loss Sunday at Heinz Field where Lewis was often used on perimeter runs instead of the smash-mouth, up-the-gut play calls that he prefers.

Steelers inside linebackers James Farrior and Larry Foote weren't nearly as busy as Lewis intended for them to be. Pittsburgh's top-ranked run defense held Baltimore (8-7) to 71 rushing yards after it had gained 172 on the ground in a 30-13 win over the Steelers three months ago.
Quarterback Kyle Boller was the Ravens' leading rusher with 28 yards on four scrambles.

"There was room, it just wasn't where we were going," said Lewis after being held to 26 rushing yards on 14 carries, a 1.9 average per carry. "I think a lot of guys know that we run stretch runs and they were keeping me contained outside. We're a downhill team.

"Our offensive line, they fight and strive to get off the ball and I think that's where tempo should be set: downhill plays, running straight at them. I think we gave Farrior and Larry Foote a day off. We didn't attack them."
By halftime, Lewis had rushed for only 7 yards on 9 carries, an average of 0.8 yards. He did score a 5-yard touchdown for the Ravens' only points.
"We're not No. 1 in stopping the run for nothing," Steelers linebacker Joey Porter said.

The reigning NFL Offensive Player of the Year is coming off a 2,066-yard campaign last season that has slumped to 839 yards in 2004. Lewis has missed two games with a sprained right ankle and another two with a suspension for violating the league substance-abuse policy.

The Ravens never got untracked as their linemen rarely reached the second level to wall off linebackers and safeties.

"Obviously, Pittsburgh is a pretty good run defense," center Mike Flynn said. "We knew going in that it was going to be one of those games where you get one yard, two yards, then we'll break one. We knew that we had to keep pounding on them.

"We're still physical, just things here and there, we never seemed to click. It's hard to explain."

Lewis lamented how fullback Alan Ricard, his rugged lead blocker, didn't get more opportunities to run isolation plays directed at the Steelers' interior linemen and linebackers.

"Ricard, he never really got a good downhill block on those guys, which he usually does," Lewis said. "As far as setting the tempo for the run, he gets in those guys' faces and drives them off the ball and wears them down. We didn't get a chance to do that."

Baltimore rarely pressed its size advantage between the tackles, and essentially abandoned the running game once it fell behind 17-7 in the second half.

"Those downhill, iso plays, you'll see we had more success running downhill today," Lewis said. "It kind of gives me a three-way read. I can bounce it out. I can get it downhill. I can take it backside.

"When I'm forced to run one way, it's just two reads: take it outside, which they were taking away, so there was only one way I could go. On the stretch play, they had that locked up."

In the first half, Baltimore attempted 15 runs for 46 yards. In the second half, the Ravens ran it 7 times for 25 yards.
Boller threw the football 32 times, completing 18 with one interception for 177 yards.

When Ravens coach Brian Billick was asked if going away from the run was dictated by the score and tempo, he replied: "I was just trying to make things happen. You should explain to me when we should stay with the run and not stay."

Meanwhile, the Steelers' running game was clicking on every cylinder.
They rushed for 183 yards on 42 carries as Jerome Bettis gained 117 yards on 27 carries.

The Steelers looked especially dominant in a 14-play drive to open the second half that included 12 consecutive runs and lasted 8:34. The drive was capped by a play-action touchdown pass from Ben Roethlisberger to tight end Jerame Tuman.

"That's the kind of stuff we used to do," Flynn said. "I'm sure Bill Cowher said we need to come out and make a statement and they did."
 


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