Pierce still finds no room to run

Pierce still finds no room to run
November 19, 2013, 10:45 am

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It appears the Ravens finally sorted out their run game woes against Chicago on Sunday. Well, maybe that’s only half right. Because although Ray Rice turned in by far his best game of the season, Bernard Pierce continued to struggle, despite playing against the league’s 31st-ranked run defense.

For much of the season, Pierce has looked at least as good as, if not better than, Rice. In fact, leading up to the game last week, ESPN.com ran a poll asking whether Pierce should supplant Rice as the starter, and 64 percent of voters thought he should.

Before the Bears game, Pierce (261) had nearly as many rushing yards as Rice (289), and Pierce’s per-carry average of 2.8 was higher than Rice’s (2.5). Granted, neither had been chewing up huge chunks of yardage.

But while Rice shredded the Bears for 131 yards on 25 carries, Pierce got no traction, running 10 times for just 18 yards. When he tried to bounce it outside, he was cut off. One time he ran right into the back of tackle Michael Oher.

Pierce has been bothered much of the season by a hamstring injury, and was listed as probable in the injury report again this past week. But it has to concern the Ravens that Pierce couldn’t muster more than a 1.8-yard average against the league’s 31st-ranked run defense, when all other aspects of the Ravens running game finally got in gear. Is the hamstring bothering Pierce more than he and the team is letting on?

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Coach John Harbaugh said last week, when discussing how to allocate playing time and carries between Rice and Pierce, that “both of those guys are going to get a large number of carries, and I think whichever guy is playing better should get more carries as we go forward.”

After the Bears game, that would appear to be Rice.

The Ravens also have Bernard Scott on the roster, but the former Bengals running back has yet to be activated for a game since the Ravens signed him three weeks ago.

“We are getting better,” Rice said after the Bears game. “We’ve shown a lot of drastic improvement in the run game today and that’s something we’ve been criticized [for], so for us to go out there and do what we did in the run game, that’s a positive.”

Well, he’s at least half right.