The Baltimore Ravens took down the previously undefeated Denver Broncos on the road yesterday, but seemingly more importantly to them, they also tied a decades-old record that surely almost nobody was even thinking about until last week, which was set by the Pittsburgh Steelers during their dynasty years.
In the mid-70s, the likes of Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier helped the Steelers rushed for at least 100 yards a game for 43 consecutive games, spanning multiple seasons. This is the record that the Ravens just tied yesterday, but they did it in highly arbitrary and artificial fashion, and head coach John Harbaugh took it upon his shoulders.
Up 23-7 with just 10 seconds to play, Baltimore picked off a 3rd-and-1 pass from Drew Lock, the Broncos’ backup quarterback, after knocking Teddy Bridgewater out of the game. Instead of taking a knee with three seconds remaining, Harbaugh called a quarterback run, with Lamar Jackson picking up five yards on the final play of the game.
That gave the Ravens 102 rushing yards on the day. They had 97 just before intercepting that pass. But that record was important to his players, apparently, so Harbaugh made the decision to run that one play to try to tie the mark, that achievement outweighing the risk of potential injury for an otherwise completely meaningless play. It was “100 percent my call”, he said.
“It’s one of those things that’s meaningful. It’s a very, very tough record to accomplish. It’s a long-term record”, he added. “I’m not going to say it’s more important than winning the game, for sure. It’s certainly not. But, as a head coach, I think you do that for your players and you do that for your coaches, and that’s something they’ll have for the rest of their lives”.
“I’m not going to lie. I ain’t really care about the record”, Jackson said after the game, confused on Harbaugh’s call at the time. “I wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking about winning the game”.
The Ravens have rushed for at least 100 yards in every one of Jackson’s starts, as well as the few games that he hasn’t started in between. He himself rushed for 118 yards in his first start back on October 11, 2018, and they’ve put up at least 100 yards as a team every week since then.
But it hasn’t been as easy in recent weeks. They had just 116 last week. They lost their top three running backs before the season started, and now have Latavius Murray, Devontae Freeman, and Le’Veon Bell, making his Ravens debut yesterday, toting the rock.
Murray rushed or 59 yards on the day on 18 attempts. Jackson only carried seven times, for 28 yards, while Freeman had one four-yard carry. Bell rushed for 11 yards on four carries. His first touch as a Ravens went for one yard on 3rd-and-3.
Up next for Baltimore is the Indianapolis Colts, who rank 28th in rushing defense heading into week four, averaging more than 133 yards allowed per game. They can break the Steelers record—which, again, surely almost nobody remembered, or was aware of, before this past week—on October 11, 2021, three years to the day that the streak started.