Forgetting Ray Rice is losing proposition

BALTIMORE -- It was only a week ago when running back Ray Rice saved the Ravens in the fourth quarter by converting a fourth-and-29. So, how could the Ravens ignore him in the fourth quarter against Pittsburgh on Sunday?

Ravens coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron have some explaining to do. Rice didn't touch the ball in the fourth quarter after gaining 44 yards on his last two carries of the third quarter.

"Yes, you can write that story if you want, but that’s not the factor in the game," Harbaugh said after the game. "We got the ball to guys, and Bernard Pierce looked pretty good. We did fine."

Forgetting about Rice is a story. In fact, it's the story in the Ravens' 23-20 loss to the Steelers. Rice only had 13 touches, which is ridiculously low for the team's top offensive playmaker. The Ravens are 32-10 when Rice gets 20 touches or more, a .761 winning percentage. They are 12-10 when he touches the ball fewer than 20 times, a .545 winning percentage.

I understand that the Ravens wanted to attack the Steelers' cornerbacks. That's a good game plan as long as Joe Flacco is on top of his game. But Flacco was streaky throughout the game. Some of his throws made it seem like Flacco thought Torrey Smith was 8 feet tall.

It's all right to adjust the game plan. Rice gained 78 yards on 12 carries, a 6.5-yard average. He put the Ravens ahead 20-13 with 4:50 left in the third quarter when he bounced to the outside and scored a 34-yard touchdown. After reaching the end zone, Rice had a 10-yard run with 68 seconds left in the third quarter.

Rice disappeared after that. It's not a coincidence that the Ravens' offense disappeared, too. Of the Ravens' eight plays, seven were passes and one was a Pierce run for minus-one yard.

“My touches go with the game flow," Rice said. "Obviously, I turned up a huge bunch of yards today, and we could have ran the ball a little bit more. But you know what? Situational football came into play. We put ourselves in the best situation to try and win the game."

I find it hard to believe that Rice believed that last line. The Ravens didn't put themselves in the best situation to win the game. They helped the Steelers' defense when they don't put the ball in the hands of Rice.