The 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers have finally removed the zero from their win column. After their Week 4 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football, Steelers’ fans are excited about a defense which held the Bengals to only three points and barely over 100 yards in the air. But in Week 5, the Baltimore Ravens ground game will be front and center as they are on a historic run when it comes to specific rushing category.
Although the Steelers are considered a below-average run defense at the present time, they just had their best run-stopping performance since Week 16 of last season. In this week’s installment of Crunching the Numbers, we’ll take a look at where the Ravens’ running attack stands historically and what the Steelers are up against this Sunday at Heinz Field.
One stat which has been flying under the radar for the Baltimore Ravens is that they are currently on 11-game streak in the regular season of rushing for at least 150 yards. Going back to Week 11 of the 2018 season, the Ravens put up at least 150 yards rushing in each of their final seven games. They have also begun 2019 with four straight games of 150+ yards rushing with their lowest total being last week with 173. They are one win away from moving into a tie for second place at 12 games with the 1972-73 Miami Dolphins. The all-time leading streak is 14 games of the 1975-76 Pittsburgh Steelers.
It should be noted the streak is regular-season games only. In the Ravens’ lone playoff game last season, they failed to reach 100 yards rushing.
The last time the Ravens played a regular season game in which they did not rush for 150 yards or more, they only managed 61 yards on the ground. It was their 23-16 loss to the Steelers in Week 9 before their bye week which was the last game they failed to reach the standard. Notably, it was also the last start by Joe Flacco in the Baltimore Ravens uniform. This means the Lamar Jackson has not started a regular-season game at quarterback in which the Ravens rushed for less than 150 yards.
The Ravens are currently leading the NFL in rushing yards per game with an average of 205.75 yards. There has never been an NFL team to average 200 yards or more rushing in a 16 game season. The last team to eclipse the 200-yard mark was the 1977 Chicago Bears who averaged 200.8 yards per game. The all-time record is by the 1948 San Francisco 49ers with 260.9 yards per game.
Believe it or not, he Ravens have achieved pure offensive balance when it comes to play selection for the first quarter of the 2019 season. They have an exact 50-50 split of rushes to passing attempts with 140 of each. This averages to 35 rushes and 35 passes each game.
While the Ravens have been rushing the ball like crazy, their opponents have found success throwing throwing the football. Currently the Ravens are giving up 302 passing yards per game which ranks 30th in the NFL. With the exception of the Miami Dolphins in Week 1, every team has thrown for at least 320 yards when facing Baltimore.
One advantage of having such a run-heavy attack is ball possession. In their first four games, the Ravens have averaged over 35 minutes in time of possession. In their two wins, they have had held the football for more than a 15-minute advantage in both games (and more than 20 minutes more in Week 1), while in their losses they only held a five-minute advantage in one and lost the time of possession battle by 34 seconds in another. As the season has progressed, the Ravens time of possession has been less and less each week.
So these are some of the numbers outlining the Baltimore Ravens rushing attack. What will Mike Tomlin and the defensive coaching staff dial up for Week 5? Can the 2019 Pittsburgh Steelers step up to slow down the Ravens’ ground game? Please leave your answers in the comments below!