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Ground game seals victory for Ravens

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Ground game seals victory for Ravens

KANSAS CITY -- If theres a silver lining to the Ravens 9-6 win vs. the Kansas City Chiefs its that they have their first win on the road and that when all else failed with the no-huddle offense it was running back Ray Rice who bailed them out.

Rice, who sometimes disappears in the running game because of the new emphasis on passing more and earlier in possessions, went silent after a productive first quarter when he gained 49 yards on five carries.

On the Ravens final drive at their own 15-yard line, quarterback Joe Flacco scrambled for a 16-yard gain on third-and-15 to extend a drive. Then, Rice ran the ball three times in a row after that, securing a first down, as the Ravens were able to kill the clock and escape 4-1 and with their first road victory.

Im glad we were able to keep it in our hands, end the game, running the ball, said Rice, who finished with 102 yards on 17 carries. It felt good to know that we ran the ball.

The Ravens didnt have much choice because Flacco couldnt find a rhythm. He was sacked four times. He completed just 13 of 27 passes for 187 yards, didnt throw a touchdown pass for the first time this season and had an interception en route to a 55.6 passer rating.

Rookie kicker Justin Tucker went 3-for-3 on field goals to give Baltimore its only points.

The defense deserved the credit, forcing the Chiefs into four turnovers to neutralize running back Jamaal Charles' impact of 140 yards on 30 carries. They've forced 12 turnovers for the season.

In the first half alone, Charles had 20 carries for 125 but the Ravens made subtle adjustments to prevent him from making game-changing plays and extending drives.

We found a way to keep them out of the end zone, coach John Harbaugh said. They had three points at halftime. Our defensive coaches did a tremendous job. They did an adjustment with all of our fronts. It just made a big difference for us.

It wasnt that we were being blocked. We werent just getting off blocks at the right time. Hes was a little quicker through the hole than some backs that you see. Our timing wasnt quite right. We cleaned it up a little bit. We changed our fronts.

That meant mistake-prone Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel had to win the game rather than just manage it. He had 10 of his teams NFL-high 15 turnovers coming into the game.

Cassel finished 9-for-15 for just 92 yards and two interceptions before being knocked out with a head injury in the fourth quarter.

Cassel also was credited with two fumbles, with the most costly one coming at the Ravens goal line to start third quarter and the Chiefs ready to break a 3-3 tie. Ravens safety Ed Reed recovered the botched snap in the end zone.

Later in the quarter, after Flacco was intercepted Brandon Flowers, Cassel was intercepted by Cary Williams with the ball at Baltimores 37.

The much-maligned defense, which has come under fierce criticism for being just 23rd overall in the league, couldn't have picked a better time to step up because the Ravens' offense stagnated away from home.

In fact, it hasn't scored a touchdown therein six quarters going back to a Week 2 loss at the Philadelphia Eagles 24.23. In that game, Tucker made two second-half field goals to give Baltimore its only points as it lost a 17-7 lead.

They play at home next Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys, and even though they're sitting atop the AFC North there's a lot to fix.

In the end we got the W, cornerback Lardarius Webb said. Thats what counts most.

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

Since drafting Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have made it clear that Joe Flacco is their starter. That doesn't mean they're not experimenting with having them both on the field at the same time, however. 

During this week's minicamp, the team has been lining Jackson up at multiple positions. 

"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson during Tuesday's minicamp, via ESPN.com.

"If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."

While at Louisville, Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons. That's more rushing yards than No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. That unique skill set could be the creative options the Ravens are looking for. 

While at the NFL Combine, however, Jackson refused to workout at any other position than QB. 

"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."

The Ravens are already viewing Jackson as one of those 'good players.' 

"Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick," LB C.J. Mosley said after minicamp practice. "It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off -- you don't want to be on the highlight reel."

Harbaugh has alluded to the fact that the rookie will be active on game days, just exactly how they get the most out of him is what's in play.

"There's a lot of considerations that go into that," Harbaugh said of using two QBs at the once. "Everybody has an opinion. I've read a few. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys."

While Flacco isn't the fasted QB in the league, he has shown glimpses of running ability in the past. Figuring out how to utilize Flacco when Jackson is under center is where things will get interesting.

Interesting - as long as it works - is what Ravens fans have been searching for over the last several seasons. 

"Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard on that."

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Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

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Ravens D-coordinator Don Martindale puts personal stamp on unit

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- There are no dreary work days for Don Martindale, who has overwhelmingly embraced his new role as defensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens.

After serving for five seasons as the team's linebackers coach, Martindale was promoted to coordinator in January after Dean Pees left the post.

Enthusiastic doesn't even begin to describe Martindale's attitude about being in charge of the defense.

"Ever since we've made this transition, it's been a joy to just come through those gates every day. I love it," Martindale said after Wednesday's mandatory minicamp practice.

This isn't the first time Martindale has been put in charge of molding a defense. In 2010, he watched over a unit in Denver that was the worst in the NFL in both yards and points allowed per game.

Given a second chance, the 55-year-old Martindale is putting together a defense that will rely heavily on the instinct of several of its most proven players, most notably safety Eric Weddle and linebackers Terrell Suggs and C.J. Mosley.

"He's just putting his personal fix on our defense and expanding it, giving the guys confidence to play fast," Weddle said. "The idea is to do what's best for the defense, not what's best the individual."

Martindale called Mosley "the quarterback" of a fluid unit that can make a snap-change from drop-back coverage to an all-out blitz. In that regard, Mosley believes this defense is superior to the one that in 2017 yielded 18.9 points per game, sixth-best in the NFL.

"The way we're able to use our core guys, put them in different spots and do some of the same things just from different positions, it's more creative, I would say, than where we were last year," Mosley said.

Baltimore coach John Harbaugh promoted Martindale rather than go outside the organization because he wanted to extend his vision of a defense that has evolved since his arrival in 2008.

"All we're doing is forwarding John's plan," Martindale said. "We're remodeling the package. It's still Ravens football, it's still Ravens defense, but we've streamlined it. It's the elegant simplicity. Guys are playing really fast."

Asked for his take on Martindale's defense, Ravens offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg replied, "They're fast and they're furious."

Sure, things might be different once the pads go on at training camp, but at this point, Martindale's boss likes what he sees.

"We're doing a lot of neat things on defense, things that are really good," Harbaugh said. "More than ever, we're putting it on our players to make decisions in real time."

Martindale has a new title, but old habits die hard.

"For the most part, it's been the same," Mosley said. "He always comes in and says, `I have to lead the linebacker room,' and sits down and gets to talking like he's back at linebacker coach."

Told of Mosley's disclosure, Martindale smiled and said, "I've been trying to stay out of there, but you can't help but go in. That's home. I have a good time in the secondary room as well."

And just about everywhere else.

"Where we're going with this thing is really exciting to me," Martindale said, "and I know it's exciting to the players."

In other training camp news, cornerback Jimmy Smith was a surprise participant at practice, going through a light regimen of individual drills just six months after tearing his left Achilles tendon.

"I don't know if Jimmy's like half Wolverine, but he's healed up in half the time of regular human beings," Weddle said, referring to the amazing recuperative powers of the Marvel super hero.

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