OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — By the end of last week, it was clear that Baltimore’s streak of 100-yard rushing games mattered to coach John Harbaugh.
His players are also aware of it, although some of them have downplayed it to some degree. The question now is whether the Indianapolis Colts can do anything to stop it.
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“I just really will focus on our guys and execution with the plan,” Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said. “I won’t talk much about those other outside forces, to use those as motivation. I just think our guys are really focused on us and focused on the plan that we have going forward for this week.”
The Ravens host the Colts on Monday night, and Eberflus’ diplomatic comment about Baltimore’s streak suggests it might not be as much of a flashpoint as it was last week. At the end of Baltimore’s win over Denver, the Ravens had quarterback Lamar Jackson run for a few more yards instead of taking a knee, pushing the team’s rushing total into triple digits for a 43rd consecutive game. That tied an NFL record — and left Broncos coach Vic Fangio furious.
Harbaugh made no apologies for caring about the record. Ravens offensive lineman Patrick Mekari said the players weren’t that focused on reaching 100 yards — the coaches called a play, and the players’ job is to execute it.
Still, the home crowd Monday will likely be quite aware of what another 100-yard rushing game would mean.
“Getting a win and doing it with breaking a record, it would be pretty dope,” Jackson said. “Especially because it’s a rivalry record.”
The Ravens (3-1) currently share the record with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who had 43 straight 100-yard rushing games from 1974-77.
The Colts (1-3) are coming off their first win of the season. For what it’s worth, they held Miami to 35 yards rushing last week, but their first three opponents reached 100.
Although Baltimore has managed to keep its streak going, the Ravens’ backfield has been unsettled thanks to season-ending injuries to J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards. Jackson’s passing has picked up — two of the top three regular-season games of his career in terms of yards passing have come in the past two weeks.
Indianapolis expected Carson Wentz’s strong arm and ability to run to open up its offense. Now the Colts are finally starting to see some results.
Despite playing the first four games with at least one offensive line starter out — and playing the past two weeks with two sprained ankles himself — Wentz appears to be rounding into form.
He’s completed 63.8% of his throws this season with five TD passes, plus one interception when Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald rerouted tight end Jack Doyle on a shovel pass.
“I think his overall decision-making has been very good,” first-year offensive coordinator Marcus Brady said. “He’s taking care of the ball both in the pocket with the pass rush as well as where he’s throwing the ball.”
The Ravens played three of their first four games on the road, but now they don’t have another road game until Nov. 11. The next four games for Baltimore are at home, with an open date included in that stretch.
Linebacker Justin Houston, with the Ravens now after two seasons in Indianapolis, is 1 1/2 sacks away from 100 in his career.
“Whatever quarterback I get it on, I’m going to ask the quarterback, ‘Can I keep that jersey?’” Houston said.
UNDER THE LIGHTS
This is the third night game for the Ravens already this season — their only other home game was a Sunday night win over Kansas City.
Baltimore is 16-2 in home primetime games under Harbaugh.
Colts coach Frank Reich uses sophisticated charts to help instruct his fourth-down decisions on game day. But he isn’t afraid to play a hunch — as he did last week at Miami.
“We had a third-and-15 and threw an out route to (Michael) Pittman and ended up with fourth-and-less-than-one,” he said. “We had the green light to go for it but for whatever reason, I had a gut instinct to punt. That’s the one they fumbled, and we got it right back.”
Indy is 3 for 7 on fourth-down conversions this season.