Give Him the D@mn Ball!
September 24, 2012
Dating back to the AFC Championship game, the Baltimore Raves have failed to utilize Pro Bowl RB Ray Rice consistently. Since entering the league in 2008, Rice has amazed 4,544 rushing yards and 31 total TDs (15 last year). He has become the team’s centerpiece on offense the past few years and is a complete a back you will find in the NFL. Despite Rice’s elite RB status, since the narrow defeat against the Patriots in last year’s playoffs, the Ravens have neglected Ray Rice at the most inopportune times.
In the 1st half of that game, the Ravens were deep in Patriot territory. The Baltimore defense had been harassing Tom Brady early, forcing him to throw 2 interceptions. One 4th and 1 at about the 5 yard line, Coach Harbaugh decides to kick a field goal. Joe Flacco was having his way with the Pats defense on that particular drive, and had them on their heels. How do you not give Rice the ball here? The man scored 12 rushing touchdowns that year and you don’t trust him to gain 1 YARD?!? With the Conference Championship on the line, and a stud like Rice on your team you HAVE to go for it in that situation. Scoring a touchdown on that possession would have been the difference, the Ravens lost 23-20.
Fast forward to this season… In week 2 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Flacco was having a rough day against the Philly defense. He threw the ball 42 times, in spite of Ray Rice’s effectiveness. Rice had 152 total yards on 22 touches and made the most of his opportunities. Despite winning the turnover battle (+2) the Ravens still lost by 1 point. Why? Because not only did the Eagles gain a ton of yards (500 total) they held the ball for almost 10 more minutes than Baltimore. And what’s the best way to control the clock on offense? Run the ball effectively… and the Ravens have Ray Rice, a Pro Bowl RB who is more than capable (They don’t pay him 9 million a year for no reason). In a grind it out game like that, Rice has to have at least 30 touches to maximize your chances to win. Giving Ray a few more touches would have chewed up more clock, and maybe Mike Vick doesn’t even get a chance to lead the Eagles on their game winning drive.
Last night against the Patriots, the Ravens’ coaching staff seemed to get the memo. Ray Rice got 25 touches and made a tremendous impact on the game. He gained 150 total yards and scored a touchdown for the Ravens, who avenged their playoff loss winning 31-30. Despite the victory, I still think 39 throws for Flacco is too much. Tom Brady and the Patriot offense was having their way with Baltimore. Their defense has been lacking a little firepower without defensive star Terrell Suggs, who likely is out for the year. That being said, keeping potent offenses, like New England’s off the field as much as possible will be key. This Baltimore team is headed in the right direction though, and will surely go deep in the playoffs. Their title aspirations however, will depend on how much attention they give Ray Rice…