Ray Rice Gets 'Smart Touches'


Remember the outcry after the Ravens' games in Jacksonville and Seattle last year?

Running back Ray Rice had 13 total touches in those games – the same number he had Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals.

The difference?

No hullabaloo after a 44-13 Ravens victory in which the offense looked nearly unstoppable, even with its Pro Bowl running back getting fewer balls his way.

It's a case in point that the new-look Ravens offense may not live and die by Rice as it has in years past. Even without a major workload for Rice, Baltimore can still put on a show.

And the running back can still be effective.

"I got smart touches tonight," Rice said afterwards. "I'm feeling good, I'm feeling fresh."

Rice had 10 carries for 68 yards, an average of 6.8 yards per carry. He caught three passes for 25 yards, including a key one-handed snag on fourth down to extend an eventual touchdown drive.

He scored the Ravens' first touchdown with a 7-yard scamper up the middle, with help from blocks by Marshal Yanda, Vonta Leach and Kelechi Osemele. Rice also plunged in on his first try from the goal line in the fourth quarter for a 1-yard score.

Meanwhile, quarterback Joe Flacco threw the ball 29 times, averaging 10.3 yards per completion. He spread the ball out to seven different receivers and hit five passes of more than 20 yards.

"I'm never going to be the guy that says 'I want this,'" Rice said. "When we ran it, we were effective, and that's what you want to have. I like to get in there and get my carries, but scoring points puts all that aside."

Rice entered the game coming off two monster performances against the Bengals last season. He ran 20 times for 104 yards and two scores in their first meeting, then 24 times for 191 yards and two more touchdowns the second time around.

Those two games happened in late November and January, however. When the weather has turned cold in years past, the Ravens have traditionally run the ball more frequently.

That could still happen this year, as Rice hinted after the game by saying, "I know it's a long season."

"It's really fun for me – I barely got hit tonight," he said. "One thing you see with our offense, we're explosive."

So how does Rice fit into that offense moving forward?

At this point it's an unknown. But Rice knows changes are occurring.

"It's great to see this offense evolving with the changes that are happening in the NFL," said Rice, who signed a five-year contract extension this offseason.

"This is a pass-friendly league now, but we still do have some running backs in the league, including myself. We can evolve with the change, which means that's catching the ball, running the ball and pass protection. That's what the running back position is now. The faster you can evolve with the change, the longer you're going to last in the NFL."

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