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John Harbaugh: Baltimore Ravens must run ball better

The Baltimore Ravens went into their season opener with just two pure running backs on the roster. That duo of Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce is all the offense needs on most days, but it wasn't enough in Thursday's 49-27 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Paired against a Denver front seven missing Von Miller -- among others -- Rice and Pierce managed just 58 yards on 21 rushes for an ugly 2.7 yards per carry.

"I don't think it was effective enough," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in defeat. "We need to run the ball better than that."

The paltry output says more about the Broncos' defensive handiwork. We know the Ravens will bounce back with Rice at the controls, but Baltimore struggled against a Broncos unit that stacked men in the box and challenged quarterback Joe Flacco to beat them with the pass. When your hot reads are Dallas Clark and Brandon Stokley -- and when it's 2013, not 2009 -- you're in trouble.

One preseason nugget that carried over: Rice remains a core piece of the passing game.

Flacco found Rice for a team-leading eight receptions, but those targets netted just 35 yards. An assortment of dump-offs and screens to Rice were more about Flacco having nothing viable to play with downfield.

The Ravens always work out the kinks. It might do them well to burn Thursday's game ball and stow away the film on a ship bound for deep waters. After building a promising 17-14 halftime lead, Baltimore got away from the offensive looks that drove them through January's fevered playoff push.

There's time to fix the mistakes, especially when you aren't facing an out-of-his-skull Peyton Manning week after week.

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