Business is about to pick up for running back Ray Rice, and he welcomes the chilly reception.
He only had 13 carries for 25 yards in a 55-20 rout of the Oakland Raiders last week, but that only was because the Ravens' passing attack was working so fluidly at home.
Going into Sunday night’s game at the Pittsburgh Steelers, who the Ravens play in two of the next three weeks, Rice anticipates his services will be needed a little more. The near-freezing temperatures projected for Heinz Field suits him just fine.
“You put a little bit of Vaseline on your skin, warm your body up so your skin doesn’t crack,” said Rice, a New York native. “I don’t wear any sleeves. I’m not that kind of guy. I played up north. I’m used to this cold weather. I know how to prepare for it.”
On the road, Baltimore is 2-2 this season. It averages just 17.5 points per game. At home, that number more than doubles to 36.8. That points to a possible grind-it-out matchup with the Steelers (6-3), who won't have quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (shoulder).
“I have to start wearing my big boy pants now. It’s going to be a tough stretch for us but to be 7-2 right now where we are feels pretty good,” Rice said. “If we were on the flipside of it going into this tough stretch, it would be very difficult.”
Rice and Bernard Pierce have been factored more heavily into the hurry-up offense since the bye week. They were the reason the Ravens got out to a 14-0 lead two weeks ago in a 25-15 win at the Cleveland Browns.
Pittsburgh has the NFL’s No. 1 defense in passing yards and total yards allowed per game. In a 16-13 overtime loss to the Steelers on Monday night, Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles gained 100 yards on 23 carries.
There might be more opportunities on the ground.
“We have to take what they are going to give us, but I think running the ball is something that we have to do well against them,” Rice said. “We’ll be smart when we run it, but we will try to execute at a high level and get some great runs.”