Ravens

Ravens

Looking to spark the team’s dormant run game, the Ravens benched starting running back Justin Forsett on Sunday and handed the job to Terrance West, and he delivered the most productive day of his three-year career.

West ran 21 times for a  career-high 113 yards and scored a touchdown in the Ravens’ 28-27 loss to the Raiders, and he made a strong case for the role as featured back that he has been actively campaigning for.

West had split time with Forsett in the first three games, though Forsett had seen the majority of the action. But with the Ravens ranked 26th in rushing offense, and 30th in yards per carry, coach John Harbaugh decided to shake things up.

West became the starter, No. 3 back Buck Allen was in uniform for the first time this season and Forsett was a healthy scratch.

“We were looking for a spark, I guess, more than anything,” coach John Harbaugh said after the game when asked about the move. “It’s nothing against Justin Forsett, for sure. … That doesn’t mean we think Justin Forsett was the problem with the running game, by any chance. But you’ve got to try to do something.”

It didn’t start out any better for the Ravens or West, who totaled 3 yards on his first three carries. But he broke off a 21-yarder in the second quarter – the Ravens longest run of the season – and then keyed a third-quarter scoring drive with runs of 12 and 14 yards.

 

“You get 2 or 3 yards, and the next thing you know, you bust a big one,” he said. “I’m just thankful for the opportunity.”

West had said earlier this week that it was difficult to get into a rhythm when called on only intermittently; he played 17 of 67 offensive snaps at Jacksonville.

Against the Raiders, he got his wish to be the featured back. Allen spelled him occasionally, carrying three times for 13 yards.

“I’m not a rotation back,” West said. “I like to feel a defense out. I get stronger as the game goes on.”

West ran eight times in the third quarter for 50 yards, and he added a 3-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter that gave the Ravens their only lead at 27-21.

Sunday’s game was the second 100-yard game of his career; he had 100 yards against the Steelers in his NFL debut in 2014 as a rookie with the Browns. Now West, the Baltimore native and former Towson star whose career seemed to stall after two disappointing years first in Cleveland and then Tennessee, is at home with his hometown team.

There’s no guarantee West will remain a featured back. Promising rookie Kenneth Dixon should be back soon from a knee injury, and Allen and Forsett further crowd the backfield. But given his chance, West has made a strong case to be No. 1.

“I never questioned my ability,” West said. “I know what I can do. I know what type of back I am. I’m a rhythm back. I get going, and once I get going, it’s hard to stop me.”

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