In a season that saw much success for numerous rookies across the league, there was little fanfare about Baltimore Ravens’ backup running back Bernard Pierce.
The rookie running back was taken late in the third round out of Temple University and figured to have a light workload playing behind workhorse Ray Rice. Pierce’s rookie season was pretty quiet in fact, although his touches increased throughout the season as he showed an ability to run hard while taking care of the football.
Pierce only had one touchdown, but did not have a single fumble despite 115 touches this season. That propensity to take care of the football loomed very large Sunday, as Pierce was a stabilizing factor after Rice had a nightmarish game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Rice lost zero fumbles this season, and only fumbled once overall despite having over 300 touches. However, that impressive streak came to a screeching halt against the Colts as Rice lost two fumbles.
Both fumbles by Rice came in Colts’ territory as each fumble sucked the air out of M&T Bank Stadium and gave the Colts renewed confidence.
After the second Rice fumble, it was evident he was off his game. Enter Pierce, who made the most of his opportunities.
Pierce started the second half and overall had just two less carries than Rice. Despite receiving two less carries than Rice, Pierce ran for 103 yards, 33 more than Rice. Only Arian Foster and Marshawn Lynch had more rushing yards than Pierce this weekend, so that also puts things in perspective. More impressively, it was Pierce who received the bulk of the carries in the fourth quarter as the Ravens pulled away from the Colts.
Pierce has come on very strong over the last three weeks counting Sunday’s big effort. Pierce now has 315 yards rushing the last three weeks and is averaging 6.4 yards per carry over that time. The emergence of Pierce has come at a great time, as the Ravens will need all hands on deck if they are to keep their playoff run alive.
Next up for the Ravens are the Denver Broncos and their third-ranked rushing defense. Thus, the Ravens will need both Rice and Pierce at their best if they are to beat the heavily favored Broncos.
No matter what happens the rest of the playoffs, at least the Ravens know they will have a formidable rushing duo for years to come.