Ravens' run plan plays into Titans' defense

Tennessee atones for Week 1

`they ran right at me'

Titans 25, Ravens 10

Ravens Gameday

Week Two

September 19, 2005|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,sun reporter

NASHVILLE, TENN. -- Apparently, someone must have informed Ravens running back Jamal Lewis about the benefits of smile therapy.

Rather than flip out about his team's 25-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans, his minimal role in it or the negative ramifications of an 0-2 start, Lewis kept flashing grins so wide you would have thought his team did not have a care in the world.

Call it his way of muzzling himself.

"Honestly, right now I'm on mute," Lewis said, almost laughing. "I'm going to keep saying the same things."

Which were, in a nutshell: "We've just got to look at the film, correct our mistakes and that's it," he said. "I don't really know what happened. We just got to go to work next week and correct our mistakes."

Lewis rushed for 9 yards on 10 carries. It was probably his least productive game from start to finish as a Raven, with only three of those carries not going for losses. It was the third-lowest output of his career, and the first time he was kept in single digits while getting double-digit carries.

The tone was set early by the Titans' defense, which stopped Lewis for losses of 3 and 2 yards on his first two carries. A week after the Pittsburgh Steelers challenged the Titans by rushing for 206 yards, the Ravens managed 14.

"They played well as a whole," Lewis said. "Just watching them on film from last week, they look like a totally different defense. They played well, great out there as a whole team."

The Titans say their showing against the Ravens, not the debacle in Pittsburgh, is more representative of their type of defense.

As is the case when the Titans stop the run, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth could not be blocked. Haynesworth destroyed countless Ravens running plays, having his way with the interior of the Ravens' offensive line.

"You saw us in true form," said Haynesworth, who left the game with a knee injury that is not believed to be serious. "Last week wasn't really a defensive tackle's game. No matter how well you play, I wasn't going to make as many tackles based on the offense the Steelers ran. [The Ravens] were tailor-made for me as far as being able to make plays because they ran right at me."

Things got so bad for the Ravens, they were forced to abandon the run. Many have accused the Ravens of giving up on the run too quickly, but the first half (10 net rushing yards) left the team with little choice.

Quarterback Anthony Wright began the second half with nine straight pass attempts, moving the Ravens 74 yards to set up a 30-yard Matt Stover field goal.

But it is not usually what the Ravens do. The Ravens have developed a reputation as a mauling offensive line, one that may struggle with pass blocking but could always depend on knocking defenders off the ball on runs.

The line did not come close to doing that against the Titans. Asked if the lack of holes for the running backs was the reason the team threw so much in the second half, left guard Edwin Mulitalo said: "I'm sure that plays a big part of it."

After gaining 77 yards on the ground a week earlier against the Indianapolis Colts (48 by Lewis), the Ravens appeared determined to assume their past reputation.

But they ran into a team equally determined to show it is not as bad against the run as a number of observers think.

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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