CINCINNATI — Ravens running back J.K. Dobbins waited by his locker, ready to unleash in a way he hadn’t been able to on the field.

The Ravens running back could not hold back after Sunday’s 24-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

He had managed 105 all-purpose yards with nearly five yards per carry.

But those carries weren’t enough, especially in the red zone.

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“I’m a guy who feels like if I’m on the field all the time, I can help this team win, and I wasn’t,” Dobbins said. “It’s the playoffs. Why am I not out there?”

Baltimore ranks 30th in red-zone touchdown rate (45.8%) this season, and those deficiencies played a role again Sunday night. The Ravens settled for a field goal before halftime despite running four plays from inside the 5-yard line.

And when quarterback Tyler Huntley attempted to stick the ball over both sets of linemen to cross the plane of the end zone in the fourth quarter, Dobbins wasn’t on the field. Dobbins scored in the second quarter on a short-yardage pass, but he wasn’t used in those goal-line plays late, and that snub played on his mind in the locker room postgame.

“[Huntley] should have never been in that situation,” Dobbins said. “I don’t get a single carry. I didn’t get a single carry. He should never have been in that situation. I believe I would have put it in the end zone, again.”

Huntley was supposed to burrow low, receiving a push from behind as he snuck through the line. He was on the field at all because quarterback Lamar Jackson missed his sixth straight game with a knee injury. Without Jackson, Baltimore’s offense has especially struggled; it managed two offensive touchdowns Sunday for the first time since Jackson’s injury.

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Dobbins’ career has been interrupted by injury, too. He missed the 2021 campaign after he suffered multiple torn ligaments, including his ACL, during a preseason game, then missed more time this season because of scar tissue in his knee.

He underwent a knee scope to clear that scar tissue, and upon his return Dobbins rattled off two straight games with over 100 rushing yards. He sat out last week’s game against the Bengals to get rest, and indicated in the run-up to the wild-card game that he finally felt nearly as nimble as he was before the injury.

But Dobbins took exception to what he perceived to be a lack of usage Sunday. He carried the ball 13 times. His season high of 17 carries came Jan. 1 in a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and he’s been working to strengthen his knee since then.

“I should be the guy,” Dobbins said. “I’m tired of holding that back. I’m tired of that. [Thirteen carries], it’s the playoffs. I’m tired of holding that back. Let’s go win the game. I’m tired of that.”

Dobbins said he made that point clear to his teammates on the sideline, too.

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“I’m tired of that,” he continued. “I’m tired of it. I’m a playmaker. I’m a guy that my teammates feed off me when I’m on the field. I should be out there all the time.”

Dobbins didn’t receive a carry inside the 5-yard line. When asked whether he preferred using running back Gus Edwards — who had two such attempts — near the goal line over Dobbins, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he valued both tailbacks. Edwards, perhaps, is more of a “downhill, physical guy,” he said.

But there was no doubt in Dobbins’ mind which running back should’ve been on the field in those situations — or which quarterback.

“I should have been out there more,” Dobbins said. “And if we’d have had Lamar, we’d have won, too.”

andy.kostka@thebaltimorebanner.com

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

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