New England Patriots vs. Ravens: Baltimore Must Use Ray Rice in Running Game

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New England Patriots vs. Ravens: Baltimore Must Use Ray Rice in Running Game
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Ray Rice is one of the most versatile running backs in the game, but against the New England Patriots, the Ravens must make sure he gets at least 25 carries.

Some offensive philosophies may believe that touches in the passing game and running game are equal—but in this instance they are not.

The short passing game doesn't wear on a defense like a bruising running game. There is more room for error through the air, and it doesn't effectively take the air out of the ball. It seems the Ravens are eager to show that they can put points on the board like all of the league's high-powered offenses.

In actuality, their best attribute is a balanced offense capable of delivering the best of both philosophies. Balanced play-calling is essential, and thus far the Ravens run-to-pass ratio hasn't been equal. They have thrown the ball 74 times through two games, and run it just 44 times.

Rice has accumulated only 26 rushes this season. The Week-2 loss at Philadelphia was a clear example of a poor run-pass distribution. Rice had a solid game on the ground with 16 rushes for 99 yards, yet the game wasn't placed in his and the offensive line's hands.

Joe Flacco was very average. He was 22-of-42 with a touchdown, an interception and a quarterback rating of 66.8. The team didn't experience the same level of success riding the aerial attack, and it was perplexing to see Rice get less than 20 carries.

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Baltimore was averaging five yards per rushing attempt against the Eagles, and the Browns had rushed for 99 yards against Philly in Week 1. The Ravens should have pounded the Eagles with Rice. Instead they depended on the pass too heavily, and they lost a close game, 24-23.

With Tom Brady and the Patriots coming in, it would behoove the Ravens to control the game on the ground. Their usually nasty defense was anything but against the Eagles. Philly had tons of success on third downs, going 7-for-15.

The Ravens seemed to really be feeling Terrell Suggs' absence.

In the past, they would depend on Suggs as the dominant pass-rusher. But, without him, Michael Vick was able to make plays, even though he was hit solidly throughout the game. If Brady is allowed to pick the Ravens secondary apart, they could be looking at a 1-2 start to the season.

While there may be nothing the Ravens can do on the defensive side of the ball, perhaps the best defense is a slower and more methodical offense.

Counting the playoffs, the Ravens and Patriots have met four times in the last three seasons. The only game the Ravens won was a 33-14 bashing in the 2010 AFC playoffs. In that game the Ravens ran the ball 52 times. Rice had 22 rushes for 159 yards and two touchdowns.

Do the Ravens need to run the ball 50-plus times to win? Probably not, but the ground game is still the key to a victory over the Patriots. 

The Ravens must let Ray run.

 

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