(Kirkendall note: The following is a diary written by TarZander that I promoted. I will usually promote the good stuff here. So everyone has the chance. Good stuff.)
Rudi needs to hit the holes harder. I know the Ravens are a good defense but our inability to run on them when their best player (Ray Ray) was hurt is inexcusable. True, the O-Line was in flux and the Ravens D-Line was getting a good push but it seemed to me that creases were there, Rudi just did not capitalize on them.
Don't get my wrong - I love what Rudi Johnson brings to the table. His tough, blue-collar work ethic and almost flawless ball security (forgetting that gaffe in the 4th Qtr) are great for the team. That said, I grit my teeth everytime he gets to the line of scrimmage and does his best Barry Sanders impression, stopping to look for the "best" hole. Countless times on Monday, he was caught from behind by a defensive lineman, or ran east-west towards the sideline, unable to gain yards. When he did hit the hole hard and run downhill, however, he did some damage. Just ask Ray Ray and Ed Reed when Rudi dragged them five yards, garnering a first down and setting up the winning TD.
My point is that in a game like Monday's, hitting the hole hard to get the three tough yards (setting up shorter 2nd and 3rd downs) -- vice trying to break the "big one" by finding the perfect hole -- is the key to victory. Rudi's not one to break a big run anyway, particularly against a fast defense like the Ravens. Having 2nd and 7s, 3rd and 5s really helps Carson, as he does not have to wait as long for patterns to develop to get the first down.
I'll always remember Rudi driving Ray Lewis into the End Zone in last year's game in Baltimore - at the time I hoped that it would be Ray Ray's Brian Bosworth/Bo Jackson moment. Plays like that seem to inspire the rest of team to not be intimidated by the Ravens D. Bottom Line: Rudi was capable of more plays like that on Monday. Jim Anderson needs to sit down with him and get him back in the North-South groove.