JK Dobbins leads rushing offense for rejuvenated Ravens in win over Steelers – The Denver Post
The Ravens’ rushing offense couldn’t have picked a better time to come out of a slow streak.
With its two best quarterbacks out at the end of the third quarter, Baltimore relied on a rejuvenated running game in Sunday’s 16-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Ravens rushed for 215 yards — their second most this season — as more than two-thirds of their offensive yardage came on the ground.
“Just ground and hammer,” tight end Mark Andrews said. “Those guys up front did an amazing job.”
The Ravens were without quarterback Lamar Jackson, who suffered a knee injury last week, and backup Tyler Huntley left in the third quarter to enter concussion protocol after being tackled by two Steelers simultaneously. That left undrafted rookie Anthony Brown to make his NFL debut, and reserve quarterbacks combined for 94 passing yards.
But the Ravens got a boost from resurgent JK Dobbins, who had been sidelined since October and hadn’t rushed for more than 50 yards in a game since his rookie season.
Dobbins set a 2020 Ravens rookie record with nine touchdowns and rushed for 160 yards in the regular-season finale. However, he tore his ACL, LCL and meniscus in his left knee, as well as his hamstrings, in August 2021 and missed the entire season; he called the injury one of the “five most difficult times of my life”. Then, this year, he only played four games before undergoing another knee surgery.
The 2020 second-round pick was back on Sunday, however, with his third career 100-yard rushing game. He rushed for 120 yards and a touchdown on 15 attempts, which is tied for the most carries of his career.
“Still not me all the way. I’m going to keep improving,” Dobbins said of his health, “and hopefully those 100-yard games maybe start to turn into 200-yard games. .
Dobbins crossed the line for 44 yards in the first quarter — as many yards as he had gained in a single game this season — setting his own touchdown rush. He was found at the 4-yard line on that run and later said that if he had returned to 100% health he would have scored.
“I’m still not in the shape I need because I would never have gotten caught,” he said.
Over the past three weeks, the Ravens had gained just 3.7 yards per carry on designed runs. On Sunday, Baltimore averaged 5.1 yards per carry.
“The running game was what we needed in this game,” coach John Harbaugh said.
Dobbins, who became the fastest Raven (19 games) to eclipse 1,000 career rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns, led the way with 8 yards per carry, but Gus Edwards also added 66 yards on 13 carries . In the most crucial practice of the day — when Baltimore held a 13-7 fourth quarter lead without their two best quarterbacks — the Ravens ran the ball nine times on a 13-play, 57-yard walk, while almost eight minutes late.
Then, with the Ravens holding a two-point lead, it was Edwards who took the victory with a 6-yard run on third-and-3 with 2:14 to go.
“He came through there on power 34 like a freight train going through there. It was really well blocked,” said Harbaugh.
The Ravens face the Browns on Saturday in Cleveland, but it’s still unclear who will start at quarterback. Jackson has not been officially ruled out, Huntley may or may not clarify concussion protocol by then, and Brown will be available, if needed. If the Ravens are forced to play without their best passers, their ability to run the ball becomes all the more important.
Noting how mentally taxing it can be to deal with injuries, Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell praised Dobbins and his big game. He said the running back was ‘on the verge of tears just sitting on the sidelines’.
“I know JK is a beast,” Campbell said. “Did I expect what he did today?” I can’t stay here and lie to you. I didn’t expect it like that. I knew he was going to have a good game, but wow. I told him that he had put the team on his back.