A sliver of uncertainty rested in the back of Raven Moe Williams' mind until he finally accomplished what he suspected he could do all along.
The running back topped the 100-yard mark for the first time in his six-year career in the Ravens' win over the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 2, and he will try to repeat the feat tomorrow night at PSINet Stadium against the AFC Central-leading Pittsburgh Steelers.
"It's one of those things you always tell yourself you can do, but without the opportunity, you always have that doubt," Williams said. "And then, when I finally got that opportunity to do it, it just builds confidence in yourself."
Williams will need every bit of confidence in facing the Steelers' defense, ranked No. 1 overall and against the run. Pittsburgh (10-2), which leads the Ravens (8-4) by two games, has allowed just two teams to rush for more than 100 yards all season.
The Ravens' running burden will not fall entirely on Williams. They will have Terry Allen back from a fractured hand that kept him out of the past three games.
Allen was the regular at the beginning of the season, but Williams likely will make his first start as a Raven - receiver Jermaine Lewis started against Indianapolis.
The return of Allen, along with Williams, will give the Ravens a true 1-2 combination at tailback, something they've been lacking.
"We'll see how Terry is feeling, holding up, and hopefully, we can get into a good rotation that way," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Having Terry this healthy this late is something we would not have anticipated."
Williams started slowly against the Colts, gaining 17 yards on 14 carries, but finished with 111 yards - 77 coming on third-quarter runs of 55 and 22 yards.
A career backup who has worked mostly out of one-back sets, Williams had trouble initially reading his linemen before exploding in the second half against the weak Colts defense.
"Part of it was recognizing what was happening up front by the defense and getting a feel for that," running backs coach Matt Simon said. "Moe is trying to grow into a steady performer for us. He's been more of a one-back type of back. Now with the two-back schemes he has to perform in, there are extra guys in the box. So there are more players you have to have a feel for."
Said Allen: "I knew what Moe was capable of doing. I talked to him on the sideline and told him the second half will be entirely different than the first, which it was for him. He broke the long run [for 55 yards], and everything got going for him. He did a great job."
A similar result in tomorrow night's nationally televised game, as unlikely as it may be coming against one of the best linebacker units in the league, would go a long way toward helping the Ravens close the gap on the Steelers.
For that to happen, Williams will draw from his experience against Indianapolis.
"That was something I hadn't done in awhile, just pounding it up in there," Williams said. "As I got more carries, I got a better feel for the speed of the game. I've seen a lot of cuts that I missed that could have led to bigger runs. You just have to focus on the little stuff, footsteps, ball security, and things like that."
NOTES: Defensive tackle Sam Adams will not play Sunday. Adams, who had arthroscopic knee surgery two weeks ago, did not practice all week and complained of soreness after a Wednesday workout with trainer Bill Tessendorf. Lional Dalton will start in place of Adams. ... Tony Siragusa donated $25,000 to the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation Thursday night and an additional $25,000 to the Grant-A-Wish Foundation. ... Billick expressed skepticism concerning Steelers running back Jerome Bettis' availability Sunday. Pittsburgh downgraded Bettis to doubtful Thursday. "I don't know. Obviously, if they go from questionable to doubtful, there is some concern about it. For us, it will be what it will be. It doesn't change anything, because what they do with [Chris] Fuamatu-Ma'Afala, it's not like it's a huge change."
Next for Ravens
Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers
Site: PSINet Stadium
When: Tomorrow, 8:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: Ch. 13, ESPN/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)
Line: Ravens by 3