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The Rushing Game

The rushing game has been talked about every week in the regular season, and so far every week in the playoffs. And yet out of eight teams to play in the divisional round, no team had much success keeping the ball on the ground. What happened to finding success with a consistent running game?

In the divisional round the Saints’ rushing left much to be desired, with their four best rushers combining for 37 yards on 14 runs, no touchdowns. The Niners had a much better day rushing, with Frank Gore picking up 89 yards in 13 attempts. Alex Smith running 28 yards for a touchdown helped out a little. The Patriots had a considerably poor day rushing as well, their typical top two, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, combined for 53 yards on only 17 carries, the Patriots unable to score a rushing touchdown. The Broncos had a normal day running the ball, with Willis McGahee and Lance Ball rushing for a combined 120 yards on 30 rushes and one touchdown.

The Ravens didn’t even rush for 100 yards on Sunday, Ray Rice rushing for 60 yards on 21 carries. The Texans had their usual rushing day, with Arian Foster running for 132 yards and scoring a touchdown on 27 carries. The Packers top two rushers combined for 76 yards on 14 carries and no touchdowns, and Aaron Rodgers ran for 66 yards. The Giants had a similar rushing day, minus the quarterback part, with Ahmad Bradshaw rushing for 63 yards on 12 carries. The Giants scored one rushing touchdown late in the game by Brandon Jacobs, he had 22 yards on 9 carries.

As you can see, aside from Arian Foster who is generally expected to always break 100 yards and score a touchdown, the running game took a hard hit in the divisional round of the playoffs. Some of the numbers put up by teams running the ball in the playoffs are surely unacceptable, and possibly embarrassing. The low amount of carries for some teams will contribute to less yards, but how much can be blamed on that? How much of the lack of success running the ball can be blamed on a good defense? At some point someone needs to step up and make a play.

With Arian Foster out of the postseason and no longer able to show us anymore 100 yards games, who is going to step up and make the big plays from behind their quarterback? With the 49ers and the Giants having the best rushing performances during the divisional round, their meeting in the conference championships round is sure to have some of the toughest rush defense we’ve seen yet. If the 49ers’ Frank Gore can find a way through the Giants defensive line there may yet be hope, however Kendall Hunter hasn’t been much help. Or perhaps the Giants’ Brandon Jacobs will come through on his words and end up having a big game along side Ahmad Bradshaw.

The Ravens are known for their defense, it’s what they do best. The Patriots are not the best running the ball. Add that with the Patriots score, a lot, and the Ravens may have little choice but to mostly abandon the running game. Unless of course, the Ravens defense can find a way to stop Tom Brady and his two tight ends, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, from forcing man coverage.

Maybe they can add kick return and punt return yards to the rushing totals, then again those numbers might also decrease.

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