J. Lewis' heavy-duty workload sets tone

NEW ORLEANS -- Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis' vintage rushing performance triggered feelings of nostalgia following his bruising outing against the New Orleans Saints.

In the Ravens' 35-22 victory Sunday at the Louisiana Superdome, Lewis rushed for a season-high 109 yards to eclipse the century mark for the first time since last December. The former NFL Offensive Player of the Year's 31 attempts marked the first time he carried the football 30 times since the Ravens' 2004 season finale against the Miami Dolphins when he gained 167 yards on 34 carries.
"The line was getting a good push and we were rolling," Lewis said. "It felt like old times."
Lewis busted through tackles much more adeptly and regularly than he had most of the season where one defender had usually been able to bring him down. He looked more explosive than he had in weeks, especially when he busted a 17-yard run. Lewis said he wasn't tired out after Ravens coach Brian Billick fed him the ball much more often than fired offensive coordinator Jim Fassel ever did. The former Pro Bowl runner couldn't recall his last 30-carry game.
"We were executing upfront, so that made it easy," Lewis said. "I think from Day 1, we felt it was going to be aggressive. They were going to get me involved."
Lewis' effort kept the Saints' defense honest, and it directly led to success down the field with play-action.
"We like to run because the run sets up the pass, then they don't know what your passes are and they get a little bit confused," offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden said. "It keeps the defense on their toes."
Added wide receiver Derrick Mason: "That's what we need. Anytime Jamal gets that many carries, guys in the fourth quarter don't want to tackle him. He's 240 pounds coming downhill. After a while, guys are going to get tired of tackling him He's going to get stronger as the game goes on."
Lewis hadn't rushed for 100 yards since gaining 105 in a win over the Green Bay Packers on Dec. 19, 2005.
Perhaps this might be a sign of things to come for Lewis since it was Billick's debut calling plays and he emphasized the run so heavily.
"He's running hard and physical," Billick said. "That's the style of running that we're going to have."

NOT IMPRESSED: The Ravens knocked high-profile Saints rookie running back Reggie Bush out of the game with an ankle injury on linebacker Bart Scott's open-field tackle.
After limiting the former Heisman Trophy winner and second overall pick from USC to 16 rushing yards on five carries, intercepting his halfback option pass and forcing him to fumble, the Ravens piled on a little bit verbally.
"I thought he was just a guy," Scott said. "He's a little guy who got chased home from school. He took a cheap shot at me. It's cool, though."
Bush caught four passes, but only gained five yards through the air. His injury isn't believed to be serious."
"Play football, it ain't hard," middle linebacker Ray Lewis said of how the Ravens bottled up Bush. "Whether it's Reggie or whoever, we play with the same type of mentality."

MOORE REVIVAL: Only a few weeks ago, wide receiver Clarence Moore was briefly out of a job after being released to boost special-teams depth.
On Sunday, the oft-criticized, 6-foot-6 former sixth-round draft pick contributed with a touchdown catch from Steve McNair on a red-zone inside route.
"I just saw him getting ready to jump outside for the fade," Moore said. "I knew he was going to go outside and I went inside. Steve threw the ball to me perfectly. I was happy to be a part of it and be part of the team and make plays and contribute." During the game, Moore said it didn't occur to him that he was on waivers just recently.
"I wasn't thinking about that at all," he said. "It felt like it didn't ever happen. It felt great to be out here playing again."

ROAD WARRIORS?: Baltimore won its third road game of the season after going winless on the road last season.
"I think it's the hotels that we're staying in," Billick joked. "Whoever got us in the hotels we did, boy, don't go there again.

INACTIVES: The Ravens deactivated linebacker Dan Cody, cornerbacks David Pittman and Corey Ivy (kidney tear), running backs P. J. Daniels and Cory Ross, offensive guard Ikechuku Ndukwe, wide receiver Devard Darling and defensive tackle Dwan Edwards.

TRAINING ROOM: Team officials said the Ravens didn't incur any notable new injuries.

QUICK HITS: McNair became the fourth quarterback in league history to rush for 3,500 yards in his career and scored his first rushing touchdown since joining the Ravens. … Lewis' 23rd career interception ties safety Ed Reed for the team's all-time lead. … Baltimore improved to 25-4 when it has a defensive touchdown. No team has more than the Ravens' 17 defensive scores since 2003, going 14-2 in those games. … The Ravens have registered at least one interception and a sack in all of their games. … The Ravens improved to 42-1 under Billick when leading by at least 14 points in a game. ... Former NFL defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was put on television in the Ravens' coaches booth for the first time with a caption calling him a consultant. Fangio has been helping the Ravens behind the scenes since the season started with film study, and his role has increased on gameday since Billick took over the play-calling. Afterward, Billick credited Fangio for helping him make adjustments.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.

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