John Harbaugh has said he doesn't think the Ravens erred by giving Ray Rice just five carries Sunday against the Seahawks, claiming that an early deficit and the looks Seattle's defense presented made it so that the Ravens needed to lean heavily on their passing game.
Today, Rice and other Ravens players chimed in on the topic. Perhaps not surprisingly, there was some debate on whether the play-calling against Seattle was handled in the right manner.
Rice, who politely declined to talk to reporters after the Seahawks game, said today that it was the loss, not his lack of touches, that left him frustrated after the game. At the same time, the Pro Bowl running back did say he hopes to be more a part of the offense going forward.
"I am never going to be the guy that talks about touches, but obviously we know going into a game, five carries is not going to cut it," Rice said. "You look at it, and I know five carries is not going to do us any justice, but at the same time, we found ourselves so deep in the situation that we had to climb our way out. We were looking for answers, whether it was running or passing, we have to find our way out of a situation.
"The problems we have been facing against these 4-3 teams, we have to attack them. It starts with running the ball. The run opens up the pass. One thing about offense, offense has to be balanced. You have to find a way to have that balance when run sets up the pass. When you are running the ball effectively, it sets it up for later down the field. One thing we are going to hang our hats on going forward, is establishing a run game. Seattle did it, Jacksonville did it. The teams that want to run the ball, not matter what situation, they are going to do it. We all know this is the NFL - we are going to face top defenses. But, at the same time, we have to make them defend the run."
To Rice's point, he got 18 carries the week before - and the Ravens ran the ball 27 times overall - even though they were facing the Steelers, who possess one of the top run defenses in the NFL.
While quarterback Joe Flacco agreed that getting Rice the ball is a good thing, he took issue with questions that the Ravens should have been more balanced offensively against Seattle.
"What do you think's going to happen when there's five minutes left in the third quarter and you're down 22-7? That happened in the Arizona Cardinals game, too, and we won. Nobody was complaining about it then," Flacco said.
"It doesn't make sense. Did you watch the game or didn't you watch the game? I understand the way our running backs feel, because if we were throwing the ball 10 times, I'd be a little upset that I didn't get to put my stamp on the game, either. But did you see how the game went? We came out, and the play I threw an interception on was a run play. They took it away with a safety down that side and they tipped the pass and picked it off. 22-7, there's probably eight minutes left in the third quarter and you're down 15. You have to score probably every possession. You can't assume they're not going to score, and you can't assume you'll have eight possessions left in the game. ... When you look at the run/pass ratio, watch the football game, and you should understand why we threw the football that many times."
Linebacker Ray Lewis, meanwhile, made it clear he thinks the Ravens need to be giving Rice a steady dose of carries, and he even compared the team's current running back to the franchise's all-time leader in rushing.
"I think we know who our bell cow is on offense," Lewis said, referring to Rice. "Me being here 10 years ago, (I remember) the same type of stats with Jamal Lewis. And when those stats changed, we never lost another game. Sometimes, those things have to happen to put you in a position to understand - that's our bell cow. If that talent right there (Rice) isn't touching the ball 25, 30 times, you have to kind of question yourself. What are we doing balance-wise? Because he's that type of player.
"Jamal Lewis was that type of player back in the day, and Ray Rice is definitely one of those talents that has to get our offense going."