Rice Carries Ravens With Monster Day

The Pro Bowl running back ran for 191 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.

Posted by Ryan Mink on Sunday, January 1st, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Categories: 2011 Season Gameday, AFC North, Ryan Mink, Week 17 at Bengals

The Ravens have ridden running back Ray Rice down the stretch this year.

And he put them on his back when it mattered most.

In windy conditions in Cincinnati, Rice had a monster day to push the Ravens to the AFC North crown. He ran for 191 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries.

Rice said this week that he had been to every AFC playoff game except for one – a home game. That was his driving force.

“It’s the first one for me, Joe [Flacco], Coach [John] Harbaugh,” Rice said. “We all came in together, and it’s just great to get that feeling now.”

Ray Rice Post-Game Locker Room

Rice, who was named to his second Pro Bowl this past week, broke several personal and team records on Sunday.

He notched 15 touchdowns this year, setting a new team record. His 1,339 rushing yards this season are a new personal single-season high.

He posted 2,068 total yards this season, a new career-high. It’s his second year in a row with more than 2,000 total yards.

Rice joins longtime St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk as the only players in league history to register at least 1,200 rushing yards and 700 receiving yards in multiple seasons.

But records weren’t what Rice was running for on Sunday. With wind gusts of up to 30 miles per hour in Cincinnati, it was a better day to run than pass.

And Rice didn’t waste any time in making his impact felt.

On just the fourth play from scrimmage, Rice burst up field for a 70-yard touchdown that gave the Ravens a lead they never surrendered. It was the longest regular-season run of his career, topping a 67-yarder against Cleveland.

Rice cut behind right guard Marshal Yanda, who started despite rib and thigh bruises that made him doubtful to play. Blocks by fellow Pro Bowler Vonta Leach and right tackle Michael Oher sprung Rice.

“It was a total team effort,” Rice said. “Running backs, we get the glory. But man, I know it’s going to get expensive with what I have to get for my offensive line.

“But don’t worry about it. It ain’t about the money. I have to get those guys something nice. They set it up for me nice this year.”

Rice continued to bang away at the Bengals defensive line, then laid down the hammer in the fourth quarter with his 51-yard touchdown. The Ravens had just a four-point lead at the time. Rice made it 24-13 with five minutes, 52 seconds remaining.

Rice largely carried the Ravens offense down the stretch of the regular season.

It started with 104 yards against the Bengals in their first matchup on Nov. 20. He piled up 204 yards in a win over Cleveland two weeks later, then ripped off 103 against Indianapolis the next. Rice had a career-long, 42-yard touchdown catch against Cleveland last week.

As they head into a bye week, the Ravens can thank their running back and let him get some rest.

But Rice spent his postgame press conference thanking them. He was particularly inspired by the fact that Yanda was even playing.

“For Marshal Yanda to even be playing was huge,” Rice said.

“The run game is different when he’s not in there. So for him to say, ‘You know what, I’m going to tough this one out because I know what’s at stake,’ shows what kind of guys we have on our team.”

Rice finished his second touchdown run of the day with a leap into the end zone as he stumbled down the stretch. But he has done anything but falter at the end of this year.

With the Ravens needing every single win to hold onto the division lead over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Rice helped carried the offense in the colder months of the season.

“December, January football in the AFC North, you have to be able to run the ball and you have to complete passes,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

“Sometimes in the running game, you have to keep pounding it in there. … We broke one there [with the 51-yarder]. I think Ray finishing both those runs was pretty impressive.”

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