It’s been exactly one month since the Ravens’ 31-24 loss to the Steelers in the AFC Divisional round of the playoffs, and one player in particular is still hurting at what occurred ending the Ravens 2010 season.
In particular, he’s hurting at a play that was made-and he didn’t make-in Baltimore’s heartbreaking loss.
That was running back Ray Rice, who despite a down-year compared to his Pro-Bowl 2009 , still finished with 1,220(4.0 avg) yards, and six total touchdowns.
Rice’s fumble in the third quarter of January 15th’s loss to Pittsburgh was the start of the meltdown for the Ravens in the second half, and it really hurt Rice for one reason in particular.
It was his first fumble of the season.
“I was about 85 percent,” Rice-who was suffering from a stomach flu before the game- told WNST. “I think 85 percent was good enough, and I apologize for putting the ball on the ground. It wasn’t like I got stripped, but I was not energized the way I normally am energized.”
Rice said that’s not who he is, and he hopes next season in 2011 the Ravens continue to rely on his ball security as a powerful asset to the Baltimore offense.
“I let it go, but I’m not a fumbler,” Rice said, who has only four regular season fumbles in his three seasons as a Raven. “You guys know that. I think I have the record for not putting the ball on the ground out of 400 or so touches. You know, you’ve got to let it go.”
Since leaving the routine of getting ready for games, Rice has had a careful eye when it comes to the game of football and his team. Rice was in Dallas to watch the Packers win Super Bowl XLV, but he has also taken some interest in how his former coaches and teammates have panned out when it comes to fixing their offense.
Rice has seen John Matsko-his offensive line coach-and Jim Zorn-the team’s quarterback coach-receive their walking papers, and his offensive coordinator in Cam Cameron receive a lot of flak for inconsistency on the part of the offense.
Rice said that he won’t be one of those doubters and has all the confidence in the world in his play-caller.
“You grow into a system,” Rice said. “I’ve been productive in his system so I trust it. I trust the man calling the plays, and I firmly believe at the end of the day it’s on us to get it done.”
“Ninety percent of the job has to be done by the players because we’re the ones who put on the pads.”
One of the guys who puts the pads on with him who has criticized some of the coaching moves? Quarterback Joe Flacco.
While Rice was hesitant to throw his coordinator under the bus, he did have to give his field general a lot of credit for speaking his mind and criticizing the firing of quarterbacks Jim Zorn.
“I didn’t hear his interview,” Rice said, “but you know what he did…I’m glad he spoke up. I’m not going to get in trouble for saying I’m glad somebody spoke up.”
If anything, Rice said the quarterback should have the prerogative to voice his opinion, especially when something doesn’t seem right.
“People need to speak up around the locker room and he’s our quarterback,” Rice noted. “I’m just saying we might not need more, but what he said was enough, his voice was heard, and that’s a side of Joe people really don’t get to see.”
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