Ray Rice's top priority in Denver:
Rice accomplished that and more, rushing for 131 yards and a touchdown in Saturday's divisional win in Denver. His 11-yard scamper in overtime put Justin Tucker in position for the game-winning field goal.
"I just vowed to be smarter," Rice said. "Whether it was 100 yards or five, my goal was to not put the ball on the ground. I had to be smarter for my guys."
Rice had fumbled just seven times in five regular seasons, an average of once every 218 touches. But he had five fumbles in eight playoff games.
The coaches still had faith in Rice Saturday in Denver.
They rode Rice throughout Saturday's game, and particularly in the second half. After pretty much splitting the carries between Rice and rookie Bernard Pierce in the wild-card round, Rice had 30 carries to Pierce's five in Denver. Pierce was also dealing with a knee injury during the game.
"Coaches trust me," Rice said. "I've been in this thing for some time now. For me as a player, I just always want to get to the next week. I'm just glad I had another opportunity to prove that, number one, I'm not a fumbler, and that I'm still a playmaker."
Rice showed his playmaking side in the second half. He had just six carries for 23 yards in the first half, but had 24 rushes for 108 yards in the second.
He had a 32-yard run to set up his 1-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 28 at the end of the third quarter.
After Corey Graham's overtime interception, the Ravens faced a second-and-10 from Denver's 45-yard line. They weren't yet in field-goal range but Rice took a draw up the middle for 11 yards to set up Tucker's kick.
"The running that Ray Rice did right down the stretch was amazing," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "He was carrying guys with him."
Rice hadn't topped 100 rushing yards in any playoff game other than the 2009 wild-card game in New England, in which he opened the game with an 83-yard touchdown.
Now he heads back to Foxborough riding on the heels of one of his strongest career playoff performances.