Steelers vs. Ravens: Loss Proves Baltimore Doesn't Use Ray Rice Effectively

Pete SchauerCorrespondent IDecember 2, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 02: Running back Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens celebrates a third quarter touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium on December 2, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

After watching third-string quarterback Charlie Batch and the Pittsburgh Steelers defeat the Baltimore Ravens in M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday afternoon, one thing is strikingly clear in Baltimore.

The Ravens don't know how to utilize Ray Rice to his full potential.

Like Andy Reid with LeSean McCoy in Philadelphia, John Harbaugh and the Ravens' coordinators aren't giving Rice the amount of carries he needs for Baltimore to be a legitimate championship contender.

Baltimore would rather put the ball in the hands of Joe Flacco—who's still campaigning for rights to be regarded as an elite quarterback in the NFL—than in Rice's, who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards the past three seasons and is again on pace to exceed the 1,000-yard mark.

You need to look no further than Sunday's home loss to the division rival Steelers to see the Ravens don't know how to use Rice.

Rice saw just 12 carries and ran extremely well, going for 78 yards, which averages out to a 6.5 YPC mark.

That said, why wouldn't you stick with what's working?

Rice scored a go-ahead 34-yard touchdown in the third quarter that put the Ravens up 20-13 on Pittsburgh, yet he didn't receive a single carry in the fourth quarter with Baltimore leading.

Even the common NFL fan knows that an NFL squad should utilize the running game when holding a lead in the fourth quarter to burn the clock.

Flacco, on the other hand, finished the day 16-of-34 (a 47 percent completion mark) for 188 yards, one touchdown and one interception, leaving me baffled as to why Rice wasn't given more of an offensive load to carry.

The Ravens QB is completing just over 60 percent of his passes and has thrown just 14 touchdowns to seven interceptions. Meanwhile, Rice has seven touchdowns on the ground and is a viable offensive weapon out of the backfield.

Rice—a top back in the NFL—should be seeing at least 18 to 22 carries per game, which hasn't been the case this season. In 12 games, there have only been four games where the star RB saw at least 20 carries, which is just plain wrong.

It's time for Harbaugh and Flacco fans to realize that the fifth-year quarterback isn't and will never be an elite QB in the NFL. What the Ravens do have, though, is an elite running back in the backfield who single-handedly won the game for Baltimore against the San Diego Chargers in Week 12.

Rice has been incredible in Baltimore for five years now, but just imagine what he could do in an offense that would employ everything that he has to offer.

If the Ravens are serious about winning a Super Bowl, they better make sure Rice is the focal point of the offense.


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