OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Ray Rice can’t wait for the Baltimore Ravens’ next game, mainly because it will help him to forget the last one.
Rice ran eight times for 28 yards and lost a fumble Monday night in a 12-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was his first fumble in the regular season since December 2009 and his fewest yards and carries since Oct. 3, 2010 against Pittsburgh.
No wonder Rice was in no mood to talk about his performance when approached by reporters after practice Wednesday.
“I honestly wanted to talk about Arizona,” Rice said.
But he knew where the conversation was headed, so the 5’8″ running back went with it.
“We’re not going to ignore the fact it happened. We didn’t execute,” Rice said. “It’s us as the whole offense. I don’t want
to make it seem like I’m begging for carries. At the same time, I do know when we’re getting first downs I touch the ball.”
The Ravens didn’t get a single first down in the first half Monday. Is that why Rice didn’t get the ball, or was the futility
of the offense a direct result of Rice not getting the ball?
Linebacker Terrell Suggs weighed in on that topic immediately after the game.
“It baffles me that Ray Rice only had six carries,” Suggs said. “This is a Pro Bowl running back we’re talking about.”
Suggs was off a little bit on the number of carries, but his point was directly on target. Instead of scolding Suggs, coach John Harbaugh agreed with the assessment.
“He has got to get more than eight carries,” Harbaugh said.
Suggs acknowledged Wednesday that it’s not his place to dictate offensive strategy — but he didn’t take it back.
“I was just frustrated,” Suggs said. “We got to do the things that we win with. We have a pretty good chance when those guys are touching the ball.”
Joe Flacco is a fine passer, but the Ravens are at their best when Rice runs at least 20 times a game and breaks free in the flat for short passes. Neither of those things happened against Jacksonville.
“He can run the ball and catch out of the backfield, too,” left tackle Bryant McKinnie said. “Definitely, I prefer that we
run the ball. You wear them down throughout the course of the game and it slows down the pass rush eventually. I believe we’ll crank things back up. I’m looking forward to getting things going this next game.”
So is Rice.
“I definitely expect to be more involved,” he said. “My involvement with this offense hasn’t changed since the beginning of the season. I don’t want them to feel like they’ve got to force me the ball. I’m not that kind of guy. My carries come when the whole offense has success. I look forward to having that success.”
Rice shot down speculation that he had harsh words with running backs coach Wilbert Montgomery during the game.
“There were no issues on the sideline. We were just trying to find an answer of how to move the ball,” he said. “It had nothing to do with me and the fumble.”
Rice fumbled after running into the back of right guard Marshal Yanda to begin Baltimore’s third possession. It was his first fumble in the regular season after 521 touches. Later, Rice had a fumble overturned when a replay determined he was down before the ball popped loose.
“I wasn’t stripped; I ran into the back of a lineman and it came out,” Rice said. “The second time, my knee hit the ground
and the ball hit me in the chest. I knew I was down. It was frustrating that it happened, but at the same time, I’m a player in this league and I know that ball security hasn’t been an issue for me. I’m looking forward to getting it back next week.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)