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John Harbaugh: Ray Rice's Carries Not The Factor In Loss

Posted Dec 3, 2012

The Pro Bowl running back didn’t get the ball in the fourth quarter.

Ray Rice’s miraculous conversion on 4th-and-29 in the fourth quarter dominated the chatter after a win in San Diego two weeks ago.

Rice’s fourth quarter is once again a topic of conversation, but for a very different reason following Sunday’s 23-20 loss to the Steelers.

Rice didn’t get the ball at all in the fourth quarter, and the Steelers outscored the Ravens 10-0 in the final frame for the comeback victory. Rice finished the day with 12 carries and one reception, tied for his season-low in total touches.

Immediately after the game, Harbaugh said that the number of carries Rice had wasn’t the reason the Ravens came up short.

“You can write that story if you want, but that’s not the factor in the game,” Harbaugh said.

After reviewing the game, Harbaugh told reporters on Monday that the game situations in the fourth quarter led to Rice not carrying the ball.

“I think it was dictated,” Harbaugh said Monday. “We’re going to do whatever we can, use the players we have.  We’re going to try to use all of our guys, all hands on deck.

“I think it’s real easy to look at the stat sheet and say, ‘hey this guy should get the ball more, that guy should get the ball more.’ You’re trying to use all your guys and move the ball. When it’s successful, we’re happy about it. When it’s not successful, you look at it.”

Rice had 78 rushing yards on the day (6.5 yards per carry), including a 34-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

A big part of the reason that Rice didn’t get the ball in the fourth quarter was that the Ravens offense had limited opportunities. The Ravens had the ball on three series in the fourth quarter and the offense ran eight plays.

Of those eight plays, three came on second or third down with at least 10 yards to go, which are typically passing situations. The Ravens ran the ball once in the fourth quarter, which came on second-and-4 carry to rookie running back Bernard Pierce, who finished the day with eight carries for 34 yards.

“We have two really good running backs,” Harbaugh said. “To me it’s important to use both of them. We have confidence in both of them in all situations.”

The other problem for the offense in the fourth quarter was that the Ravens had a drive cut short when quarterback Joe Flacco fumbled on a sack/strip on a third-and-5 play.

“If we had gotten one first down there in the fourth quarter, I’m quite certain Ray would have carried the ball quite a bit,” Harbaugh said. “But we didn’t. We didn’t get started. That’s the way that went.”

After Sunday’s game, Rice agreed that the flow of the game dictated his touches and he did not complain about wanting to get the ball more. 

“My touches go with the game flow,” Rice said. “Obviously, I turned up a huge bunch of yards today, and we could have ran the ball a little bit more. But you know what? Situational football came into play. We put ourselves in the best situation to try and win the game. It was all about execution today. We just fell a little short."

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