Can Pierce play vs. Pats?

Can Pierce play vs. Pats?
January 15, 2013, 1:45 pm
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Harbaugh Exclusive: Coach breaks down his epic win over Denver, preps for title game tilt with New England

Bernard Pierce’s status for the AFC title game could be in jeopardy.

Coach John Harbaugh avoided questions about the health of his rookie running back Monday, but Pierce only played 16 offensive snaps in the divisional playoff win vs. the Denver Broncos.

He didn't have a full week of practice last week because of a knee injury. Pierce had become an integral part of the Ravens' two-back attack with Ray Rice.

Pierce wasn't a factor Saturday, finishing with 5 carries for 14 yards in a 38-35 double-overtime victory vs. the Broncos. Ray Rice, despite being winded from the high altitude, led the way with 30 carries for 130 yards.

Pierce had emerged as a weapon after being under-utilized most of the season. He had 123, 89 and 103 rushing yards in his three previous games. He combined with Rice for 220 all-purpose yards in a 24-9 win vs. the Indianapolis Colts in a wild-card playoff game.

Pierce’s absence, or inability to perform to an optimum level, places an extra burden on Rice, who is faced with a stout run defense of the Patriots. They held Arian Foster of the Houston Texans to 90 yards on 22 carries in a 41-28 win Sunday.

Rice had 20 carries for 101 yards and 1 TD and 5 catches for 49 in a Week 3 meeting with the Patriots. The Ravens won that game 31-30, but the Patriots finished the regular season with the ninth-best run defense (101.9 per game). 

If the Ravens want to chew up the clock and keep quarterback Tom Brady off the field, having a fresh body in Pierce to spell Rice is crucial.