The Colts' defense has proven to be extremely vulnerable against the run, allowing running backs to run roughshod over them this season. They're allowing 137.5 yards on the ground per game, ranking 29th in the NFL. Plagued by several injuries and trying to stop offenses with an undersized front seven, the Colts gave up 352 rushing yards against the Kansas City Chiefs. "They've got a lot of little, tough linebackers that like to get downhill," Ravens Pro Bowl fullback Vonta Leach said. "I played the Colts for year. They've got a lot of short guys, but they're fast and get to the ball." The Colts surrendered 2,200 rushing yards during the regular season, allowing an average of 5.1 yards per rush. This could be a major advantage for a Ravens running game that ranks 11th in the NFL and is averaging 118.8 yards per game on the ground. Headlined by Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice, who rushed for 1,143 yards and nine touchdowns while rookie backup Bernard Pierce gained 532 yards, the Ravens are averaging 4.3 yards per rush with a total of 1,901 yards and 17 touchdowns. Playing without defensive linemen Brandon McKinney, Josh Chapman and Drake Nevis, who are on injured reserve, and being without Antonio Johnson for the past two games, the Colts could be in trouble against Rice. "Good running back, great sight lines, a hard runner to bring down," Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky told Indianapolis reporters of Rice. ¿We need multiple people to corral him and put him down. He's got great vision. He sees the hole and does a great job of cutting back and making plays in the open field and making guys miss. We've got to corral him and get him down." The biggest plus for the Colts' defense has been the emergence of newcomer linebacker Jerrell Freeman, a former Canadian Football League standout who has registered 203 tackles. Overall, though, this defense has struggled to stop good backs. "They gave up big plays, but in key plays in the red zone, they stopped them," Leach said. "They're the same they've always been, bend but don't break."
Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun
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