J. Lewis hits the wall again in loss to Bears

CHICAGO -- It's no longer an aberration. With running back Jamal Lewis continually stuffed at or behind the line of scrimmage, it's an alarming trend that typically spells another loss for the Baltimore Ravens.

The former NFL Offensive Player of the Year's latest Waterloo occurred Sunday against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. He was held to 34 yards on 15 carries, a 2.3 average, as Baltimore (2-4) took a 10-6 loss.

Lewis said the Bears did a superb job of taking away his cutback lanes by leaving a defender free to stop him if there was no daylight on straight-ahead runs.

"They force you to cut back and somebody's there waiting," Lewis said. "It was tough sledding."

Despite Lewis' struggles and backup Chester Taylor gaining 21 yards on two carries, the Ravens stuck with their game plan against the NFL's third-ranked defense that hasn't allowed a rushing touchdown all year.

"They're a solid defense and play their gaps well," center Mike Flynn said. "They're real fast and we had to adjust to their speed."

The Ravens' predictability on offense is a big factor in their struggles along with Lewis trying to overcome a difficult offseason that included being incarcerated for a federal drug crime and undergoing surgery on his right ankle.

"Teams kind of get your number and know what you do and scheme against you," Lewis said. "They think, ‘Let's stop 31.' We can try to overpower them and be more physical, but, at the same time, we've got to balance out this offense."

After rushing for 2,066 yards in 2003, Lewis has only 326 yards on 113 carries with one touchdown this year. He averages just 2.9 yards per carry. Meanwhile, Taylor has 223 yards on 37 carries for a 6.0 average.

"We have to be able to run the ball to be good," Ravens coach Brian Billick said.

What's the missing ingredient for Lewis and this offense?

"People can say, ‘Oh, it's the running game, or the passing game,' but it's the offense as a whole," Lewis said. "We're just not clicking. I try to be one of the leaders of this offense and make something happen."

One trademark of the Ravens' six consecutive road losses is falling behind early along with committing penalties and turnovers.

"You have to start out fast," Flynn said. "The last two games we started out slow and it gives them confidence. When you do that, it gets the whole team energized. We're on the ropes and not playing our game."

TRAINING ROOM: Middle linebacker Ray Lewis left the game in the fourth quarter after aggravating a thigh injury and will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam today.

Lewis was listed as probable all week with the thigh bruise despite not practicing much. He became a question mark Sunday with CBS reporting that he would be held out, but Lewis opted to play hurt. Lewis wasn't available for comment afterward.

"I won't know the extent of it until I visit with the trainers and the doctors," said Billick, who insisted all week that Lewis' injury wasn't a big deal.

Fullback Alan Ricard, who already had one calf injury, left after injuring his other calf and will have an MRI today.

SACKED: Quarterback Anthony Wright was sacked four times. It was a deadly combination of nearly immediate penetration and receivers not creating consistent separation.

"A lot of the pressures we got were because he couldn't throw the ball," said Bears defensive tackle Tank Johnson, who had a sack in each of the Ravens' last two drives. "He kept trying to run out and we kept grabbing him. It's a credit to our secondary."

Wright, who completed 18 of 32 passes for 164 yards, believes it's time to shake things up.

"Maybe we need to take a couple more shots in the end zone," Wright said.

FLAGGED: Nickel back Dale Carter didn't try to dispute his holding call in the first quarter that led to Marc Edwards' touchdown catch. The Ravens were flagged 11 times, giving Chicago four first downs.

"I don't have time to think about what the ref is doing," Carter said. "I guess it was a great call. He's doing his job and we're doing our job. You can't complain about that."

INACTIVES: Safety Ed Reed (ankle) was deactivated and replaced by Chad Williams.Wide receiver Clarence Moore was deactivated even though starter Mark Clayton (ankle) was out. Randy Hymes started and caught two passes for 25 yards. The other inactives were quarterback Kyle Boller (ankle, fullback Ovie Mughelli (ankle), kicker Aaron Elling, offensive tackle Adam Terry and defensive end Tony Weaver (toe).

In addition to being a long time contributor to RavensInsider, Aaron Wilson writes for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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