OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) -As a newcomer to the Baltimore Ravens, Willis McGahee figured it wouldn't be appropriate for him to suggest a solution to the team's struggling offense.
Finally, as the losses began to mount, the talented running back voiced his opinion.
``I want to be the guy that controls the game,'' he said. ``Let the running game control the clock, control the whole game.''
McGahee got a chance to act out his plan Monday night against the unbeaten New England Patriots. He carried 30 times for 138 yards and a touchdown, and although the Ravens lost 27-24, Baltimore dominated the time of possession and outgained a team many deem to be the best in the NFL.
``No doubt about it, we moved the ball running and passing,'' McGahee said. ``Sorry it took so long, but that was just a glimpse of what this offense can do.''
More accurately, that's what McGahee can do. He's averaging a robust 4.3 yards per carry, has four 100-yard games and ranks fourth in the NFL with 1,048 yards rushing, just one yard less than San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson. McGahee also is second on the team with 37 receptions, including four against the Patriots.
``He's very good out of the backfield,'' coach Brian Billick said.
The Ravens ran 65 plays against New England, and McGahee was involved in more than half. Perhaps it's no coincidence it was Baltimore's finest performance of the season.
``Willis was breaking guys' ankles out there. I saw him fake out Junior Seau, and he got Adalius Thomas another time,'' Ravens fullback Le'Ron McClain said. ``That's how we should always play football, just fire off the ball and hit somebody in the mouth. We were just having fun out there. That's what we need to keep doing, just run it down people's throats. I love it.''
Baltimore (4-8) hasn't come close to resembling the team that last year went 13-3, though no one can blame McGahee for the collapse. Obtained in an offseason trade with the Buffalo Bills, the fifth-year running back has proven to be a solid replacement for Jamal Lewis.
``That was an excellent pickup for us,'' Billick said.
The Ravens have little left to play for, yet McGahee has plenty of incentive to finish strong. Every time he walks onto the field he will think of Sean Taylor, his former teammate at the University of Miami who was shot to death on Nov. 27 and buried hours before Baltimore faced the Patriots.
``I really wanted to go to the funeral. I would have been drained, just from the flight alone,'' McGahee said. ``I was just playing for him, basically, dedicating the rest of the season to him.''
Taylor would have been proud of the way McGahee ran against a New England defense that was yielding an average of 86.2 yards rushing per game.
``I felt that this was the first time all year that we got bullied,'' Patriots safety Rodney Harrison said. ``We can't allow teams to run the ball and pound it like that.''
McGahee won't get the opportunity this year to reach the postseason for the first time, but he's already eclipsed his previous single-season career high in catches and is a virtual lock to top his career-best mark of 1,247 yards rushing, set in 2005.
``He's much more physical than I thought. He's an excellent pass blocker. We ask a lot of our backs,'' Billick said, ``and he does a great job with it.''
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