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J.K. Dobbins' return jumpstarts Ravens' rushing attack in win over Steelers

That's the J.K. Dobbins we remember.

The Baltimore Ravens running back returned to the lineup Sunday against rival Pittsburgh and gashed the Steelers defense, scampering for 120 rushing yards, with a long of 44, and a touchdown in the 16-14 victory.

"It's still not me all the way yet and I'm going to continue to get better," Dobbins said, via the team's official website. "Hopefully those 100-yard games will turn into 200-yard games. I'm going to keep getting healthier."

Dobbins missed all of the 2021 season after ripping up his knee in the preseason. The running back returned in Week 3 but didn't look like himself. He played four games, rushing 35 times for 123 yards (3.51 YPA) and a TD before being shut down again after Week 6 for another surgery to remove scar tissue in hopes of returning for the stretch run.

It seems to have worked.

Dobbins showed the shiftiness he displayed during an impressive rookie campaign in 2020, gashing Pittsburgh's front seven on Sunday. He ripped right up the gut for a 44-yard gain in the first quarter that set up his 4-yard TD plunge to give Baltimore an early 10-0 lead. Dobbins said he'd have scored on the long run if he'd been in better shape.

Baltimore needed Dobbins' big day. With Lamar Jackson injured and Tyler Huntley exiting Sunday's game in concussion protocol after a crushing hit, the Ravens were onto third-string undrafted rookie Anthony Brown.

The Ravens (9-4) used the running game to keep the Steelers at bay and escape with a two-point win that kept them atop the AFC North.

"I know J.K's a beast. Did I expect what he did today? I really can't sit here and lie to you. I did not expect it like that," defensive end Calais Campbell said. "I told him he put the team on his back the way he was running. His vision, his stop and start, getting north and south -- really making defenders pay every time he touched the ball. He's been hungry just itching to get on the field. You see the heart and passion he plays with."

Dobbins' return lifted a Ravens rushing attack that hasn't gotten consistent play from the running back spot all season. Even if Huntley is cleared for Saturday's tilt against Cleveland, Baltimore needs this version of Dobbins to make postseason noise.

"The running game is what we needed in this game," coach John Harbaugh said. "A bunch of running yards in that final drive. Gus (Edwards) too, the last two runs that he had. He came around there like a freight train."

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