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Rice Breaks Loose, Carries The Load


PLEASE NOTE:The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice was patiently waiting for his turn to break out in the Ravens' loaded offense. After all, Baltimore was winning, and to him, that's the most important statistic.

But Rice was clearly thrilled to rack up some stats of his own in Sunday's 31-17 victory over the Denver Broncos.

"Good afternoon," Rice said, greeting the media with a huge smile after giving Joe Flacco a chest-to-chest hug. "Great afternoon."

When Flacco and the Ravens' passing offense went cold, it was finally Rice's turn. The Ravens' tailback notched his first 100-yard game and first touchdown of the season by turning into a second-half workhorse Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium, essentially sealing Baltimore's win.

Against a defense that held Titans running back Chris Johnson to 53 yards rushing last week, Rice ran a season-high 27 times for a season-high 133 yards and two touchdowns.

"The thing about this season, so far, is that when we needed to pass the ball we passed it," Rice said. "Today, when we needed to run the ball, we ran it.

"Today was one of those days where everything felt good, especially in the run game."

Rice's previous season highs were 21 carries (Week 1 vs. Jets) and 87 rushing yards (Week 2 vs. Cincinnati). He also was hampered by a couple minor injuries, including a knee bruise that kept him from starting last week in Pittsburgh.

On Sunday, Rice was back in his leading role and Ravens Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron maximized him.

It was never more evident than when the game was still hanging in the balance in the third quarter. Rice touched the ball 17 times out of the 26 plays run during Baltimore's final two touchdown drives.

On the first drive, which ran 7 minutes, 25 seconds off the clock, Rice ran seven times for 31 yards, including a one-yard touchdown plunge to put the Ravens up 17 points. He also caught a pass for five yards and a key first down.

After Denver's field goal trimmed Baltimore's lead back to 14 points, Cameron again went to Rice. Rice touched the ball a whopping nine straight times. He gained 41 yards on the ground and seven through the air. Willis McGahee capped the drive with a 30-yard touchdown run that all but ended the game.

"That's trust," Rice said. "[Cameron] trusts that when he puts the ball in my hands, not only am I going to get yards but I'm going to carry the team."

Cameron also called Rice's number inside the 5-yard line, something he's rarely done in the past.

After McGahee couldn't stuff the ball into the end zone from the 1-yard line with two opportunities on Baltimore's first drive, Rice scored nearly untouched on his first try near the start of the second quarter. Rice's first touchdown of the season gave the Ravens a 14-0 lead.

"It's hard to score touchdowns in the NFL, especially running the ball. The goal line is physical," Rice said. "Those touchdown balls, I like to collect. I like to share them with my offensive line when I get them."

Rice and the Ravens' offensive line seemed to get stronger as the game went on, a sign of classic Baltimore football of years past.

In the fourth quarter, Running Backs Coach Wilbert Montgomery looked at Rice and told him he was going to break a long one. Rice never did rip off one of his trademark long jaunts, but he had several that were one arm tackle away from being a highlight reel touchdown scamper.

"I felt it," Rice said. "I was one play away. That 133 could have been 200 if I got out."

Rice even had some words for his fantasy football owners after the game. He's been hearing from some of his fantasy owners on his Twitter account.

"It's funny – people take the fantasy football stuff serious," Rice said. "I try not to let anybody down. At the same time, I've faced some tough fronts this year. So today, fantasy owners that drafted me, I got you some points. Now give me some slack."

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