Ravens running back Ray Rice spoke to reporters Wednesday for the first time since rushing the ball just five times in a loss to the Seattle Seahawks Sunday.
He spoke without rancor, saying he is never going to be a guy who complains about touches. He also agreed with Ravens coach John Harbaughs assessment that Rices light load 13 touches in all -- was largely predicated on the fact that the Ravens were down by 15 points early in the third quarter.
We found ourselves so deep in a situation (that) we had to climb our way out. We were looking for answers, whether it be run or pass, said Rice, who declined postgame interview requests Sunday.
But at the same time, Rice also made it clear Wednesday that he wants the ball more a lot more.
Five carries isnt going to cut it, he said. You look at it, I know five carries isnt going to do us any favors.
Anytime I feel like I get 20, 25 touches running, receiving, whatever youre going to do, we have a great shot of winning that game.
Five carries was Rices lowest single-game total since Dec. 7, 2008, when he had three against the Redskins. He was a rookie then, and not a starter.
Since he became a starter in his second season, he has produced as consistently as any back in the NFL. He ranks sixth in the league in all-purpose (combined rushing and receiving) yards this season, averaging 114.3 per game. Going back to 2009, he is third in the league in that stat, trailing only Tennessees Chris Johnson and Chicagos Matt Forte.
Thats our bell cow, Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said of Rice. If that talent right there isnt touching it 25, 30 times, then you have to question yourself, What are we actually doing balance- wise?
Its an on-point question considering that Rice is averaging 23 touches in the Ravens six wins and just 14 touches in their three defeats. With that in mind, Lewis expressed confidence that the teams offensive braintrust -- Harbaugh, Cameron, and leaders such as Rice and quarterback Joe Flacco would correct any shortfalls.
I think our offensive guys will definitely do a better job of getting (Rice) the ball, Lewis said.
That remains to be seen. Flacco doesnt believe Rices light load in Seattle was problematic.
What do you think is going to happen when there are five minutes left in the third quarter and youre down 22-7? Flacco said Wednesday in his weekly session with Baltimore reporters. It happened in the Arizona Cardinals game and we won. No one said anything then. (Fyi, Rice had 25 touches in the Arizona game.)
The controversy about Rices touches doesnt make sense, Flacco continued. Did you watch the game or didnt watch the game? I understand how our running backs feel. If we were throwing it 10 times Id be a little upset that I didnt get to put my stamp on the game. But did you see how the game went? We werent perfect (on offense) but we werent terrible, either. We moved the ball all game. Things didnt go our way (but) when you look at the run-pass ratio, watch the football game and you should understand why we threw the ball that many times and why we ran the ball that many times.
Rice wasnt complaining about what happened in Seattle, mind you. He just emphasized that he believes from a unit meeting, apparently that the Ravens will try harder from now on to establish the run, as Jacksonville (42 carries) and Seattle (42 carries) did against them.
Through nine games, the Ravens are ranked 22nd in the league in rushing. Theyve finished a season that low just one since 1998.
One thing were going to hang our hats on going forward is establishing the running game, Rice said. Thats what Seattle did, what Jacksonville did. The team that wants to run the ball, no matter the situation, youre going to do it.
Follow John Eisenberg on Twitter at @CSNEisenberg