It took awhile, but Ray Rice was finally a factor for the Baltimore Ravens in their 23-20 loss to the Chicago Bears. Rice broke a 47-yard run early on in the first quarter before the weather delay which really set the tone. Rice finished the day with 131 yards on 25 carries, his first 100-yard rushing game of the season. The stats were nice, but what was really telling for me was that Rice looked explosive again. For most of the season he’s looked hesitant. I’m not sure if it’s his hip injury, the bad play of the offensive line, or a combination of both, but Rice was finally looking like the Rice of old.
Unfortunately Rice could go back to being a non-factor in the Ravens’ next game against the New York Jets. The Bears were the 31st ranked rushing defense in the league, and it was hard to get traction on the messy Soldier Field. It will be a different story in Baltimore this Sunday going against the top ranked rush defense (73.5 yards average). It would be silly to expect another 20 plus carry over 100 yard performance against the awesome front seven of the Jets. 50 or 60 yards rushing might be the ceiling for Rice here, but I do believe Rice can contribute in the passing game. I would expect the Ravens to probably go with a quick passing game to help slow the Jets’ pass rush with lots of screens, hitches, and slants. If I were the Ravens I would have a lot of screens to Rice and Torrey Smith going right at Jets CB Antonio Cromartie who has never been the best tackler.
Rice got back on track last week against a bad defense, and if he can keep the momentum going against a good defense like the Jets then he truly is back. We’ll see what happens this Sunday.
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