Ravens dynamic duo is back together for divisional round against Titans

Baltimore Ravens

Limited in practice all week with a calf injury, running back Mark Ingram will be ready to go when the Baltimore Ravens take on the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night

When Mark Ingram left New Orleans, the only NFL home he had ever known, to sign with the Baltimore Ravens in the offseason, he took it upon himself to build up the player whose success would determine just how far the team would go.

Ingram’s relationship with quarterback Lamar Jackson has developed into one of the most unique in the league, with Ingram serving as sort of a mentor for the second-year signal-caller. When Ingram preceded Jackson at a press conference earlier this season, he introduced his teammate as “the man, the myth, the legend, the MVP frontrunner.” The meaning of “Big truss,” another favorite Ingram saying when talking about his quarterback, is open to interpretation, but it quickly became a motto for the Ravens.

And when Jackson set a new milestone, breaking Michael Vick’s single-season rushing record for quarterbacks, it was Ingram who took the microphone from Erin Andrews to interview him on the field following the game.

So when Jackson was facing the possibility of going into his second career postseason start on Saturday without his running mate in the backfield, it was going to be a big blow to the Ravens. But Baltimore received some good news, as Ingram is sufficiently recovered from a calf injury sustained in Week 16 to play in their divisional round matchup against the Tennessee Titans at M&T Bank Stadium.

Expect a bruising affair when the two teams meet. Each relies on a grinding running attack to wear down opponents and control the ball and the clock. Tennessee worked that game plan to perfection last week in their wild card victory over the New England Patriots. Running back Derrick Henry’s 186 yards rushing in that win made him the most talked-about rusher going into the divisional round.

But it wasn’t Henry and the Titans who became the first NFL team in a decade to have two 1,000 rushers; that was Jackson, Ingram, and the Ravens. It wasn’t Henry who led his team to 3,296 yards on the ground, the most in NFL history. Jackson and Ingram together accounted for 5,598 total yards from scrimmage, 86 percent of the Ravens total this season. They averaged 5.53 yards per carry, the most by any team in the Super Bowl era. The Ravens rushed for at least 150 yards in 13 games this season, tying the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins for the most since the merger. They finished the year with 156 more rushing attempts than passes; not since the 2009 New York Jets as an NFL team had a play-calling disparity like that.

The Ravens head into the divisional round winners of 10 straight games, finishing with the best record in the NFL at 14-2 and leading the league with 33.2 points per game. Jackson is going to be NFL MVP when the award is announced the night before the Super Bowl, and for him, his growth into the most dynamic playmaker in the league has been helped by having Ingram by his side.

“It really means a lot from a player like him. You know, his status, you know, come in and he treat me just like I was [Ingram’s former Saints teammate Drew Brees] or somebody,” Jackson said earlier this week. “Even though I’m a long way from Drew but it’s a family thing. Like I always say it’s a brotherhood here and it’s just great. I love having Mark here. I’m glad he’s here, not anywhere else.”

Ingram’s arrival in Baltimore came on the heels of a disappointing end to Jackson’s rookie season. In their wild-card matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers last January, Jackson completed just two passes for 17 yards in the first half. The home crowd openly booed him and called for his benching. Two late touchdowns made his final stat line and the score somewhat respectable, but Baltimore still bowed out with a 23-17 loss.

Having Ingram in the backfield for his second postseason start on Saturday should take the pressure off Jackson to do it all himself.

Even if Ingram is limited by the calf injury, the Ravens still have the 238 pound Gus Edwards as a reliable backup. Then there is Jackson’s arm, much improved from the last time he played in a postseason game. Jackson threw for just six touchdowns in his rookie season; he led the NFL with 36 this year.

They both have postseason disappointment to get over; Ingram’s last two trips to the playoffs with the Saints ended with the “Minneapolis Miracle” and the no-call pass interference against the Rams. And together, this dynamic duo is motivated, angry, and burning to go lead the Ravens into the AFC Championship.

Next: Aaron Jones will be the difference for Packers

Products You May Like

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *