Yes, Rice has five postseason fumbles in the last three postseasons and has been far more reliable during the regular season as Rice failed to give the ball away once again during the 2012 regular season.
But, he is still Ray Rice. The most complete football player on the offensive side of the ball that the Baltimore Ravens have ever had in franchise history.
Yes, that fumble in the AFC divisional playoff against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010 pretty much changed the momentum of the football game, where the Ravens led 21-7 going into halftime.
Yes, he fumbled twice last week against the Indianapolis Colts. Ultimately, they didn’t cost the team the game and Rice was given a pass by some and ridiculed by others.
I’m not excusing Rice’s miscues this past weekend, but I’m defending his ability to contribute on offense.
Everyone knows that whenever the starter has some sort of struggles or isn’t performing as well as the backup that the backup will always be the town’s favorite player.
Bernard Pierce played extremely well last week going for 13 carries, 103 yards albeit against an Indianapolis team that went into the game 29th against the run. Over the past three weeks, including playoffs, Pierce has gained 315 yards on 49 carries, good for 6.43 yards-per-carry. Ray Rice went for 15 carries and 68 yards and added a 47-yard reception against the Colts last week in the playoff contest. His most recent three game totals can’t be compared due to his limited playing time in Week 17 against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Rice once again put out a solid season on the ground with 1143 yards rushing on 257 carries and caught 61 passes for 478 yards and 10 touchdowns. Pierce has been a solid spell, especially as of late, for Rice garnering 532 yards rushing on 108 carries, while catching seven balls for 47 yards and his lone touchdown came against Cleveland in Week Nine.
Rice still proves to be the more creative option in offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell’s offense and his versatility in the passing game gives quarterback Joe Flacco another target he can rely on if his first few progressions are covered.
Some may criticize Rice for his running style and that he doesn’t have that breakaway speed to score off a big run. Some may say his shiftiness and quick cuts often cause him to trip under his own two feet. Some may say that Pierce is more of a north-south downhill runner than Rice, providing more explosiveness in hitting the holes.
What needs to be taken into account is that more team’s prepare for Rice and Pierce is simply a solid spell for now.
Can he be the Ravens’ version of Michael Turner when he was in San Diego alongside Ladainian Tomlinson and Darren Sproles?
Could he be a starter for some of the other teams in the NFL?
Pierce also added a 43-yard run against the Colts last week where he appeared to have plenty of green grass to break a long touchdown run. Yet, he was run down in the open field, similar to Rice. Before you jump the gun on Pierce and immediately want him to demand a higher workload, think again.
He’s a great running back, but he is the second best running back on this football team.
If anything, Pierce is yet another option that makes this Ravens offense more explosive and dynamic. He gives Rice a sigh of relief and by taking some of the workload off of Rice, both backs remain fresh.
So don’t put a ton of stock in Rice being replaced anytime soon. It’s an anomaly that Rice has had as many fumbles as he has in his postseason career in comparison to his reliability of holding onto the football during the regular season. Rice will be just fine and any naysayers that say he should lose touches because of his fumbles in the postseason is silly. They are probably the same people that said he needed more touches during the Cam Cameron era as the Ravens offensive coordinator.