Rice Becomes NFL Yards Leader

Even while setting career marks, Ray Rice feels fresh heading into the final stretch.

Posted by Garrett Downing on Sunday, December 11th, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, Garrett Downing, Week 14 vs Colts

Good things happen when Ray Rice has the ball in his hands.

In his encore to the best rushing performance of his career, Rice set a handful of personal bests and again etched his name in the record books as the Ravens beat the Indianapolis Colts 24-10.

“That’s what this time of year is going to have to be about,” Ravens Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “If you can run the ball and stop the run, you should always have a chance this time of the year.”

Rice On Keeping Pace In A Tight AFC

Rice topped 100 yards rushing in back-to-back games for the first time in his career, and picked up 149 total yards from scrimmage. The big day made Rice the NFL’s leader with 1,622 yards from scrimmage (1,029 rushing, 593 receiving), moving him ahead of Chicago running back Matt Forte, who was inactive for the Bears game today. Rice could keep the lead since Forte’s early prognosis after injuring his MCL on Dec. 4 had a two- to six-week time frame for recovery.

Rice carried the ball 26 times for 103 yards and a touchdown, which put him over 1,000 rushing yards on the season for the third straight year. Rice became the first Ravens running back since the franchise’s all-time rushing leader Jamal Lewis to top 1,000 yards in three straight seasons.

“It means a lot to me,” Rice said. “Obviously anytime I do something, I give my credit to the offensive line, but to do three straight, it does say something, and consistency matters.”

Just like he has done all year, Rice also played a large part in the passing game. He caught six passes for 46 yards and those six catches moved Rice into third place all-time in Ravens receptions, behind only tight end Todd Heap and wide receiver Derrick Mason.

“I don’t want to be a guy who was a ‘one-hit wonder,’ and all that stuff,” Rice said. “I try to just stay the course.”

Rice was the motor for the offense, which collected 358 total yards and punted just three times. Baltimore passed 31 times and ran 37, and controlled the ball for 36 minutes and 8 seconds.

The run complemented the pass, and the Ravens had both working.

“I thought it was a good blend,” Harbaugh said.

Rice’s one touchdown came early in the second quarter, which capped off a 10-play drive. The 6-yard carry gave Baltimore a 17-0 lead, effectively putting the game out of reach after the Ravens first three possessions.

“We had to [score fast],” Rice said. “We’ve been victims of not bringing our best and we’ve been beat, so it was one of those situations where we wanted to come out and score to help our defense out.”

Rice has been the defense’s best friend lately, as he is in the midst of one of the best stretches of his career, and the offense appears to be clicking.

“We’re just playing good team football,” Rice said.

Earlier in the season, his production was down, as he had limited touches in losses to Jacksonville and Seattle. After both games, team leaders like Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis were vocal about the importance of getting Rice more involved in games.

In the four games since the loss to Seattle, Rice has averaged 117.5 rushing yards and had at least 20 carries in each game.

The Ravens are 4-0 during that stretch.

“I guess I could say I’m pretty fresh going into it right now, considering the workload I had in the first half of the season,” Rice said. “I’m not saying I saved my best for the end of the season, but I’m doing a great job of keeping myself fresh.

“I know there’s a lot more football left.”

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