Simply looking at the numbers, it appears that the Ravens will have an opportunity to attack the Indianapolis Colts defense with the running game Sunday.
The Colts are susceptible to giving up big yardage on the ground, as they rank 29th in the NFL against the run, allowing an average of 137.5 yards per game.
That could spell a big day for Pro Bowl running back
“Stats, none of that means anything right now,” Rice said. “That’s a Chuck Pagano defense. We know what kind of game they’re going to play. They’re going to be physical. They’re going to come in here and they’re going to be lights out. We just got to go out there and execute and that’s going to be very important for us.”
In addition to Rice, the Ravens have also relied heavily on rookie
The two backs have contrasting styles – Rice is a smaller, shiftier back, while Pierce is a powerful, one-cut runner – and the two have been a good one-two punch in the second half of the season.
The Ravens hope that continues into the playoffs.
“I feel like I’m getting better. I’m progressing as a player, as a student, and the sky is the limit,” Pierce said. “Once I started getting everything down and started knowing everything in and out it started to become a lot easier and a lot more comfortable being out there.”
The emphasis Sunday will be on controlling the line of scrimmage to open holes for Rice and Pierce. The offensive line play has been up and down this season, and the Ravens currently rank 11th in the NFL averaging 118 rushing yards per game.
Establishing the run is a priority, but Offensive Coordinator Jim Caldwell said that part of the game plan is to take whatever the defense gives them.
“You can’t do the same thing all the time against any team in this league, because if you do they will shut you down,” Caldwell said. “We have to be able to mix it up a little bit of run and pass and change the pace a little bit. We also often times, within our scheme, we will do whatever they give us. We have to make adjustments and have checks and so on and so forth. At the line of scrimmage, a lot of times it dictates what you see.”
Caldwell also pointed out that while the Colts have given up plenty of yards on the ground, they have been stingy in the red zone. The Colts rank eighth in the league in red-zone defense, allowing a touchdown on 50.9 percent of opponents’ trips inside the 20-yard line.
“They are big and strong inside,” Caldwell said. “It’s a great group. Teams don’t get to where they are unless they can keep you out of the end zone, and that’s the thing that they do very, very well. They are stingy in the red zone.”
One trend that Rice and the Ravens would like to break is the fact that Rice has been fairly quiet in the playoffs during his career.
In six playoff games since 2009, Rice has rushed for 73.7 yards per game and scored three touchdowns. Outside of a 159-yard, two-touchdown day that Rice had against the Patriots in 2009, he has not crossed the 100-yard mark in the playoffs.
“It’s playoff football, so it’s going to be our will vs. theirs,” Rice said. “It’s one of those games where it’s not going be a lot of trick-em stuff, just whatever team wants it more.”