The Baltimore Ravens have on their roster three different running backs who have recorded a 100-yard rushing game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in their career. Two of them are on the Reserve/Covid-19 List for tomorrow’s game (Mark Ingram was a member of the New Orleans Saints when he had his 100-yard game); the other one, they’ll still have to worry about on Thanksgiving.
That would be Gus Edwards, a 2018 college free agent out of Rutgers who spent half of his rookie season that year on the practice squad before being called up and finding success running the ball in a new-look Ravens offense built around then-rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson as a dual threat. Even though he only started seven games that year, Jackson broke the NFL quarterback record for rushing attempts in a season.
In six starts that year (11 games total), Edwards rushed for 718 yards on just 137 attempts, although he only scored twice. The following year, after taking a back seat to the newly-signed Ingram, he still rushed for 711 yards on 133 carries.
Even with J.K. Dobbins, the rookie second-round pick, taking the center stage, Edwards is still getting opportunities and producing when he does. He still has 85 rushing attempts so far in 2020 for 376 yards and three touchdowns, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. He has ample evidence that he is a more than competent back that the Steelers need to be worried about, as T.J. Watt explained to reporters yesterday.
“He can get downfield, he can make guys miss, and I think that’s the number one thing with this offense, is making guys miss, especially at the second level”, he said in detailing why his style of running is successful within Baltimore’s scheme. “You have all the misdirection stuff, all the triple-option, read-option stuff that allows those guys to get to the second level very quickly, because the guys up front are very indecisive”.
“That’s what kind of gets the ball rolling, and a guy like him can make the second-level guys miss, and that’s where things kind of get out of the gate”, he continued. “First and foremost, up front, we need to be very disciplined. And then if anything does break down, we need to make sure that we can get him down before he can get rolling”.
While Dobbins recorded his first 100-yard game against the Steelers in their first meeting, the Ravens ran all over Pittsburgh in that game, in which Ingram was unavailable due to injury. While Jackson’s numbers were not efficient, Edwards rushed for 87 yards himself in that game on 16 carries, with a touchdown.
The Steelers absolutely cannot afford to take him lightly after seeing Dobbins and Ingram put on the Reserve/Covid-19 List. Baltimore still has a more than effective rushing attack with Jackson and Edwards alone, though their numbers since that Pittsburgh game have trailed off as injuries mounted to the offensive line and tight end positions.