Ravens ride Ray Rice to early lead in Cleveland (Browns on the board)

Perhaps all the bye week speculation about an offensive shift to the ground game was founded after all.

Of course, it could be just one drive, but it sure looks like the Ravens’ plan to rely on Ray Rice’s legs a bit more to help increase time of possession and reverse their road troubles.

Two weeks ago, Rice carried the ball just nine times in the loss at Houston. On Baltimore’s first offensive series against the Browns, Rice had six carries for 32 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown that gave his team an early 7-0 lead.

It was still a fairly balanced series with quarterback Joe Flacco completing all four of his pass attempts for 38 yards. But the pass was set up by the run instead of vice versa, which could mean a shift away from the no-huddle attack in road contests.

Rice rolled right over the Browns defense, just as he always has. He entered the game with 824 rushing yards in nine games versus Cleveland, by far his most against any opponent in his career.

Update: Rice kept his legs churning on the second drive, running five more times to give him 58 rushing yards through two series.

Rookie Bernard Pierce also chipped in on the ground-centered 10-play possession that took more than five minutes off the clock. Pierce ran four times for 25 yards, and capped the 70-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown scamper around the left end on third down. It was Pierce’s first career touchdown.

When Justin Tucker split the uprights, the Ravens had a 14-0 lead and they appear on their way to a much-needed rout at Cleveland.

Baltimore is outgaining the Browns 156-22 after the first quarter with 86 of those yards coming via the rush.

Update II: The Browns scored their first points early in the second quarter, trimming the Ravens’ lead to 14-3 on Phil Dawson’s 32-yard field goal.

That ended a 12-play, 66-yard drive. Tailback Trent Richardson led the way and is up to 51 rushing yards on eight carries.