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Ray Rice Breaks Free In Chicago

Posted Nov 17, 2013

Ray Rice ran for a season-high 131 yards behind improved blocking up front.

It was the run Ray Rice and the Ravens had been waiting for all year long.

On Baltimore’s first carry of Sunday’s 23-20 loss in Chicago, Rice ripped off a 47-yard rumble behind some very effective blocking from his offensive line.

When he came to the sideline, he couldn’t help but joke.

“Man, I don’t even know what to do with a hole that big,” Rice told his teammates.

The 47-yard gain was the Ravens’ longest run of the season. And it wasn’t the end for Rice, who has struggled throughout the year. He racked up 131 yards on 25 carries and scored a 1-yard touchdown, averaging a robust 5.2 yards per run.

Rice entered the game with an NFL-low 2.5 yards per carry (among qualified runners). The Pro Bowler was under intense criticism, and Baltimore fans and media questioned whether backup Bernard Pierce should take over the lead role.

Now Rice looks like he could be in store for a second-half push.

“We showed a lot of improvement – drastic improvement – in the run game today,” Rice said. “That’s something we’ve been criticized a lot on, so for us to go out there and do what we did in the run game, that’s a positive.”

The Ravens put up a season-high 174 rushing yards as a team. That’s about 100 yards more than they were averaging entering the day (73.1).

Rice said the Ravens knew they had to run the ball well considering the windy and wet weather made passing difficult. It also worked out well that the Bears run defense entered the game allowing the second-most rushing yards per game (129.4).

Although the Bears defense doesn’t hang its hat on run defense, the Ravens did also block better and Rice ran hard.

“All my success today is really attributed to the O-line getting a hat on a hat,” Rice said. “I did what I had to do when it came to dealing with the safeties, I got my pads down, lowered it, and that’s something I’m going to look forward to keep doing.”

On the 47-yard carry at the start of the game, tight end Ed Dickson and left tackle Eugene Monroe worked well together to get two linemen turned and moving laterally. Left guard A.Q. Shipley slipped through and took out the linebacker, springing Rice down the sideline.

On Rice’s 1-yard touchdown scamper to cap the drive, extra blocker Jah Reid had a good block on the right edge and fullback Vonta Leach and Shipley combined to blast a cornerback, leaving Rice waltzing into the end zone.

So what changed?

Head Coach John Harbaugh said he’ll have to see the tape to get a full picture, but did note better blocking.

“We just kept working at it,” center Gino Gradkowski said. “We kept working at it and working at it. Eventually, things start going your way when you work as hard as we do. I don’t think we changed anything; I think we just kept at it.”

While the Ravens’ breakout on the ground game is a good sign for the offense going forward, the players weren’t overjoyed considering the loss.

Baltimore had a couple chances to punch the ball into the end zone from the 5- and 2-yard lines to potentially win the game at the end of regulation, but Rice was stopped for a 3-yard gain and 1-yard loss.

Rice said safety Chris Conte simply made a good play on the 1-yard loss, knifing through to make a tackle. The Ravens ended up settling for a field goal to go to overtime.

“We just didn’t get it done,” right guard Marshal Yanda said. “We all wanted to get in. We were all fired up, 2-yard line. That’s tough. Give them credit, they did what they needed to do to win. … We want to win the game. If we had 5 yards rushing and got a win, it would be better.”

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