- Todd Archer, ESPN Staff Writer
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IRVING, Texas – It seems to be a matchup that will be a push Sunday, the Cowboys' run offense against the Baltimore run defense.
The Cowboys can’t – or won’t – run the ball, averaging 67.8 yards a game on the ground, which is 29th in the league. The Ravens are giving up 118.4 yards per game on the ground, which is 20th in the NFL and a far cry from how good their run defense has been.
Last week, Kansas City ran it 50 times for 214 yards against Baltimore, led by Jamaal Charles' 140 yards, which has created the perception that the Ravens aren’t what they used to be. But they are still allowing only 3.5 yards per carry and have never allowed 4 yards a carry for a season since moving to Baltimore in 1996.
The Cowboys are averaging 3.4 yards per carry, and if you take away DeMarco Murray’s busted play run of 48 yards in the season opener at the New York Giants they are averaging 2.9 yards per rush.
“I think there are a lot of reasons (why the Cowboys have not run better),” coach Jason Garrett said. “We’ve talked about some of the pre-snap penalties that got us in some bad situations in a couple of games. We’ve had some minus runs and there are some different reasons for that, as well. Guys getting physically beaten up front or on the edges or wherever they need to be, and we’ve played some good run defending teams where there’s been a lot of movement up front and frankly we’ve not blocked it as good as we need to. We haven’t run it as well as we need to.”
The opponents’ comment is a good one. Tampa Bay is No. 4 against the run, Seattle is No. 3 and Chicago is No. 2, but that can’t be an excuse either.
“In order for us to be the offense we want to be we have to be balanced,” Garrett said. “You’re not going to be able to run the ball well every week in this league. Just look around at all the good offenses, they don’t do it. But you have to do it better than what we’ve been doing it.”
Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis isn't looking for the running game to get healthy this week.
“They can look to do whatever they want to do but it ain’t going to be what they think it’s going to be,” Lewis said on Wednesday's conference call.