“I’m not a fumbler,” he said following Sunday’s 24-9 victory.
Rice is right. He had just one fumble through this year’s regular season, which he didn’t lose. He has just seven in his entire five-year, regular-season career.
But Rice had two fumbles – and lost both – against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, killing Ravens drives deep into enemy territory.
He’s now fumbled in each of the past four postseasons – versus Indianapolis in 2009, Pittsburgh in 2010, Houston in 2011 and again versus Indianapolis. Rice put the blame on himself.
“I’ll take both of [those fumbles] on the chin,” Rice said. “I don’t know if I want to say it – but I saved my worst game for today.
“That’ll be the last time I address me fumbling. It won’t happen again.”
Outside of the fumbles, the Pro Bowler had another standout day with 117 total yards. He ran 15 times for 70 yards (4.7 average) and caught one screen pass for 47 yards that set up the Ravens’ first touchdown.
But Rice was kicking himself afterwards for his mistakes.
His first fumble came on the Ravens’ opening drive. Rice ran up the middle, but found no open lanes. He danced in the hole and eventually had the ball knocked out by former Raven Cory Redding. The Colts recovered at their own 11-yard line, halting the Ravens’ early momentum.
“Obviously I’ve got to be careful in those situations where I’m trying to make a play when there’s no more left there,” Rice said. “Just as a runner, I’ve been doing it all year.”
Rice’s second fumble came in the fourth quarter with the Ravens looking to build on their eight-point lead. Rice broke off an 18-yard run, but safety Joe Lefeged caught him and punched the ball out. Indianapolis recovered at its own 29-yard line.
The Colts quickly went on the move with a chance at tying the game in the fourth quarter. That was halted, however, when the defense stuffed [add] Indianapolis once it got into field goal range and kicker Adam Vinatieri missed a 40-yard field goal wide right.
Rice let out an expression of relief on the sideline.
“You see how my teammates [stepped up],” Rice said. “We’ve got a great team and I’m not worried about any numbers in terms of playoffs.”
Rookie running back Bernard Pierce also stepped up with Rice having some ball control issues. Sometimes taking over on entire drives, Pierce rushed 13 times for 103 yards including a long of 43.
It’s Pierce’s second 100-yard rushing game in the past three weeks. He notched 123 yards on 14 carries against the New York Giants and has seen an increased load down the stretch.
“It’s a definite confidence booster because I just want to be able to keep getting better week-in and week-out,” Pierce said. “And I’ve proven that to myself and everybody else.”
The Ravens have increasingly mixed and matched the two running backs to keep them fresh and provide a contrast to one another. Rice is more of a cutback runner while Pierce has more of a one-cut style.
“It’s 1A and 1B; that’s how we see it,” Rice said.
Harbaugh was asked about the decision to let Pierce close out the game on Baltimore’s final drive.
“It really wasn’t any decision other than the fact that we think we have two good guys that can play,” Harbaugh said. “We like both of those guys in that situation. Bernard has earned the right to be in on those kind of situations. I like both of our backs a lot.”