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News » Ravens no longer depend solely on defense to win

Ravens no longer depend solely on defense to win

Ravens no longer depend solely on defense to win
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - For years, the responsibility of the Baltimore Ravens' offense was to simply avoid turnovers and hold onto the football long enough to allow the team's vaunted defense to get some rest.

When Cam Cameron took the job as offensive coordinator in January, he had no idea what he was getting into.

"I didn't have any preconceived ideas when I got here," Cameron said Wednesday. "I just took each guy and kept trying to help him get better and better."

The sum of the parts has been extremely impressive. Baltimore's three-pronged running attack ranks third in the NFL, rookie quarterback Joe Flacco has thrown 112 consecutive passes without an interception, and the Ravens have scored at least 27 points in four straight games - a franchise record.

Much of the credit goes to Cameron, who has taken a perennially drab unit and turned it into a creative, productive scoring machine. Flacco has displayed the poise of a veteran while compiling a 62 percent completion percentage and throwing six touchdown passes (and no interceptions) over the last four games.

Willis McGahee, Ray Rice and Le'Ron McClain combined for 148 yards on 36 carries last Sunday in a 41-13 rout of Houston. The backfield may not be popular with fantasy football owners, but the Ravens are the only NFL team to have three players with at least 350 yards rushing.

Cameron has also unleashed a two-quarterback alignment that has produced several huge plays, including a 43-yard completion from Troy Smith to Flacco. Tight end Todd Heap has been used more as a blocker this season, but against Houston he caught two touchdown passes, including one from Smith out of the single-wing set.

The Baltimore defense is still solid, but Ray Lewis and Co. aren't the only reason the Ravens (6-3) take a four-game winning streak into Sunday's game against the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

"I'm just proud to be a part of success," said fullback Lorenzo Neal, who played under Cameron with the San Diego Chargers. "We know the Baltimore Ravens are known for defense. Offensively, guys are like, let's hold ourselves accountable. Let's share some of the burden."

The defense, naturally, appreciates the help. Pass rusher Trevor Pryce had a feeling the offense would be different this season, and he hasn't been disappointed.

"It's not magical pixie dust. We have a new coordinator who's put in some interesting wrinkles, a rookie quarterback who's playing well, three running backs, a good offensive line," Pryce said. "You saw it coming. They work really, really hard. That's the thing that's most impressive to me, even more so than the points. Hard work pays off. You were bound to see it, and it's happened for them ..."

Cameron deflects the praise he's received to his assistant coaches and the players, but he deserves credit for taking a 345-pound defensive lineman like Haloti Ngata and placing him on the offensive front in a goal-line situation.

"It's just great to be a part of it," Ngata said. "I'm happy they trust me to do something like that, and hopefully they let continue to do it."

Cameron insists that the Ravens can't afford to be satisfied with that they've accomplished.

"We've got a long way to go. The season is really going to get started here, so we've got to keep getting better," he said. "I can't remember being around a group that's worked any harder and has more potential to continue to improve in November, December and January."

If the Ravens were looking for a gauge of their progress, they should get it Sunday.

"This offense is growing. It continues to grow. But we can't be content," Neal said. "This is one of those weeks that, if you're living on your laurels or what you did last week, it could get ugly."

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 13, 2008

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Willis McGahee Name: Willis McGahee
Position: RB
Age: 26
Experience: 6 years
College: Miami (FL)
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