BALTIMORE — It seemed like a perfect scenario for the Baltimore Ravens defense. Facing a rookie quarterback still adjusting to the NFL, all Baltimore had to do was stop the run to win.
The Ravens knew what was coming from Chicago, and they were powerless to stop it. Jordan Howard ran for 167 yards, and the Bears won in overtime 27-24 Sunday.
Baltimore (3-3) yielded a team-record 231 yards rushing in a disappointing performance against a team that came in with a 1-4 record and with first-year pro Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback.
“We gave up a ton of yards rushing,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “It (stinks), but we’re going to get rid of this mediocrity.”
Trubisky went 8 for 16 for 113 yards. He was at his best when simply handing the ball to Howard or Tarik Cohen, who chipped in with 14 carries for 32 yards.
Howard, however, was the hammer. The 6-foot, 224-pounder carried the ball 36 times, including a pivotal 53-yarder in overtime that set up the game-winning field goal.
“The more touches you get, the more comfortable you get,” Howard said.
On his 53-yarder, he broke free from safety Eric Weddle, who had a hand on the ball but not enough of a grip on the elusive runner.
“It’s an unacceptable play,” Weddle said. “I have to make the tackle. It’s unfortunate to lose the game because of that but I’ve got big shoulders and I can man up to my mistakes.”
Had the Ravens put the clamps on Howard earlier, the game would never have gone to overtime.
Baltimore has been operating the past few weeks without injured 340-pound tackle Brandon Williams in the middle, and the difference has been profound.
“He’s a guy that demands two blockers at all times,” said Willie Henry, one of the players who have received extra playing time in Williams’ absence. “It will be exciting when he gets back.”
Howard found his way through the defense from all angles, averaging 4.6 yards per carry.
“The Bears run that stretch game,” Ravens middle linebacker C.J. Mosley said. “For the most part, we did a pretty good job today. But we have to do a better job of trying to avoid those big plays.”
The poor play of the defense offset some of the positive aspects of Baltimore’s performance, such as a 96-yard kickoff return by Bobby Rainey and a 77-yard punt return by Michael Campanaro. The Ravens also made up a 14-point deficit and completely shut down Trubisky.
But they simply could not stop Howard.
“I couldn’t tell you one reason, one way or the other,” Suggs said. “They executed, they got their angles and their backs really capitalized.”