George has had pale efforts when he, purple clash

In past four matchups, he's emerged second best

Titans' run offense vs. Ravens' run defense

January 04, 2001|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

They're the only times Tennessee running back Eddie George has found himself among the ordinary.

As with the rest of the running backs in the NFL the past two seasons, George has yet to solve the Ravens' run-stopping defense.

In his past four full games against the Ravens, he has been held to an average of 44.5 yards. Over that seasonal span, he has averaged 94.2 yards against the rest of the league.

He averaged 2.6 yards a carry against the Ravens in that time, but rushed for 3.9 yards an attempt against everybody else.

"You just see they have a lot of speed and they penetrate to the point of attack and they disrupt your reads to where you're running into an unblocked linebacker," George said. "That linebacker being Ray Lewis, who is a heck of a tackler, gets you out of your rhythm early, and they do that on a consistent basis."

The Ravens have eliminated George from the game plan as well as a game.

On Oct. 22, the Ravens put George on the sideline after one carry. In their next meeting, on Nov. 12, the Ravens made the Titans reconsider running the ball - George had only 28 yards on 12 carries.

Usually, George is the mainstay of the offense, carrying a franchise-record 403 times this season for a career-high 1,509 yards.

The Ravens have forced the Titans out of that comfort zone. In the past two seasons, three of George's five worst performances have come against the Ravens.

Many of George's problems have centered on eluding Ravens middle linebacker Lewis, the NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Lewis has had 18 tackles against Tennessee this season, including a crushing collision with George in the last game.

As a power back, George falls into the Ravens' strength. The Ravens stuff the inside and use their speed in pursuit on the outside. It's hard to escape their defense without a variety of cutbacks to cause missed tackles.

But the Ravens have dominated every team in this fashion. They haven't allowed a 100-yard rusher in 34 games. In fact, they have given up more than 54 yards to just three running backs this season.

"Like I always say, they have to find a way to stop our defense," Lewis said. "When they start doing things that mess us up, then we're in trouble."

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