The list of top-tier running backs the Ravens will have faced this season continues to grow longer.
After dealing with the likes of the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Maurice Jones-Drew, the St. Louis Rams’ Steven Jackson and the Houston Texans’ Arian Foster, the defense gets another unenviable challenge in the San Francisco 49ers’ Frank Gore.
“Frank Gore is a premier back,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “And as far as their run game goes, he’s the straw that stirs the drink, without question. He makes those plays go. They run a bunch of plays. They run just about every scheme that you could possibly run, and for a back to be able to understand those schemes and see them as well as he does says a lot about the kind of player he is.”
Gore ranks seventh in the NFL in rushing with 870 yards and is tied with tight end Vernon Davis for the team lead in touchdowns with five.
“He is a great back,” outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “Like I said, I told you all, we are going to face a good back every week, but this one, he is very special. He runs angry. He runs very aggressive. We like that. We like the rough stuff.”
The good news for the Ravens is that they are well-versed in attacking opposing tailbacks. Only Jones-Drew and the Seattle Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch have gained 100 yards or more against the defense this season.
The unit limited the Cincinnati Bengals’ Cedric Benson to 15 carries for 41 yards. That performance inspired confidence in the run defense.
“It was good because we were missing one of our leaders in [inside linebacker] Ray Lewis, and for those guys to step up and make plays and stop the run, that makes us feel good, knowing that we could make them one-dimensional,” nose tackle Terrence Cody said. “[W]e know we’ve got to stop the run.”