I remember someone saying, “Too much of a good thing can be bad.” Something tells me that person might have been either Cam Cameron or John Harbaugh, because why the heck else would you not put the ball in Ray Rice’s hands at all in the fourth quarter with a 20-13 lead?
Now don’t get me wrong, I think they’re great coaches, but something is puzzling when you don’t get the ball to your best playmaker with a lead in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s even more puzzling when you look at what Rice did the last two times he touched the ball that day. With just under five minutes left in the third quarter, Rice took a handoff to the left side and scampered 34 yards for a score putting Baltimore up 20-13. The Ravens then got the ball back with under two minutes left in the third quarter. Their first play was a ten yard run by Rice. That was the last time he touched the ball all day, making it one of the most baffling game plans ever.
Have we already forgotten about Rice’s fourth and 29 from the previous week? Just put the ball in his hands!
In case you haven’t heard, Baltimore wound up losing the game 23-20 to the Steelers. Had Baltimore won, they would have seriously hindered Pittsburgh’s hopes of making the playoffs. Instead, the Steelers are sitting in second place with a 7-5 record, and now Baltimore is tied with the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos with records of 9-3. With the Houston Texans in control of their destiny with an 11-1 record, there is only one spot left for that first round bye. Losing a game to Pittsburgh and their third-string quarterback Charlie Batch certainly doesn’t help.
Rice finished the game with 78 rushing yards on 12 carries and a score. Joe Flacco, the guy Baltimore decided to close the game out with, lost a fumble in the fourth quarter that led to a Steeler score which tied the game at 20.
Flacco’s numbers didn’t impress at all—he completed 16 of 34 passes for 188 yards with a touchdown and an interception. But his numbers were even worse in the fourth quarter. During the final frame, Flacco completed two of six passes for 18 yards and lost a fumble.
What makes losing that must-win game worse is their upcoming schedule. Baltimore travels to Washington next week to face off against RG3 and the Redskins before they host Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. After that, they play the New York Giants at home before finishing on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals.
At least they have a few days before their next game so they can figure out how to get Rice the ball.
by Andy Mindzak