With the regular season coming to a close, it’s hard not to be impressed by the Baltimore Ravens’ 2019 campaign. The club entered the season with a relatively untested Lamar Jackson under center; rather than floundering, they became one of the league’s top offenses. Everyone’s focus is shifting to the playoffs, but the Ravens can still make NFL history on Sunday.
Baltimore enters their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers within touching distance of the single-season team rushing record. Even with their starters on the sidelines, the Ravens should still make league history.
The Baltimore Ravens’ dominant rushing attack
This season, the Baltimore Ravens’ offense has barely put a foot wrong. Everything, however, starts and ends with Lamar Jackson.
While most football fans still think of quarterbacks as stoic leaders who stand tall in the pocket, Jackson is playing a different ballgame. While the second-year signal-caller is a respectable passer, he’s a true double threat; whether you try to defend against the pass or the run, Jackson is more than capable of doing the opposite. He’s far from a one-man show, though.
While Lamar Jackson is the Ravens’ leading rusher, Mark Ingram also lines up in the backfield; he’s averaging five yards per carry and has over 1,000 on the season. Those two dangerous runners, combined with offensive coordinator Greg Roman’s blocking schemes, have made Baltimore the league’s premier rushing offense. The club is averaging a hair under 205 yards on the ground each outing, which puts them on the verge of NFL history.
Baltimore’s chance at NFL history
Coming into Week 17, the Baltimore Ravens have piled up 3,073 rushing yards. While that already puts them in rarified territory as one of only three teams to break the 3,000-yard plateau, there’s another milestone on the cards.
The NFL’s all-time single-season rushing title belongs to the 1978 New England Patriots, who chewed up 3,165 yards of turf. That team had four players—Sam Cunningham, Andy Johson, Horace Ivory, and Steve Grogan—who each had at least 500 rushing yards on the season.
On Sunday, the Ravens will be chasing history without their starters. While Lamar Jackson and Mark Ingram won’t be taking the field, Baltimore still has two capable runners. Robert Griffin III can fill in as an ersatz Jackson and Gus Edwards, despite being the back-up running back, still averages five yards per carry. The record books should still be well within their grasp.
The Ravens are looking for the Super Bowl, not the NFL rushing record
Making history is all well and good, but no organization enters the season hoping to set an all-time NFL rushing record. While the Baltimore Ravens will surely appreciate the praise, their target is something much more tangible: the Lombardi Trophy.
No matter what happens in Week 17, the Ravens have secured the top seed in the AFC. They’ll have a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs; if seeding holds, they’ll host the Texans in the divisional round, followed by a meeting with the winner of the Patriots and the Chiefs.
While anything can happen in one-game elimination scenarios, the Ravens are currently a heavy favorite to win the Super Bowl. If they’re able to make it to the big game and lift the Lombardi Trophy, they’ll be able to celebrate a truly historic season.