By Matt Vensel
The Baltimore Sun
10:00 AM EST, December 23, 2013
Since suffering a hip injury against the Cleveland Browns in Week 2 and sitting out the following week against the Houston Texans, Ravens running back Ray Rice has played approximately 70 percent of the team’s offensive snaps, silencing the talk that there would be an even timeshare at the position. Bernard Pierce got the leftovers, usually playing between 20 and 25 snaps per game.
But in Sunday’s blowout loss to the New England Patriots, a game in which the Ravens trailed by 17 points by the end of the first quarter, it was Pierce who got the bigger share of the snaps at running back.
Pierce played 35 snaps against the Patriots, the most he has played since starting against the Texans. Rice, who was listed as questionable with thigh injury suffered last week, played 32. Bernard Scott played nine snaps, his first on offense as a member of the Ravens, though most of them came during garbage time.
It seems likely that Rice’s injury was a factor in Pierce getting more snaps, especially because Rice could be seen talking to trainers on the sideline at points throughout the game. Neither performed all that well, as Rice had 40 yards on 11 carries and Pierce had 31 on 10. Pierce caught three passes, one more than Rice.
I suspect we will see the backfield return to the status quo in the season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals, but the playing time there will be worth keeping an eye on.
Here are other observations from the official snap counts:
--- Ed Dickson continues to get the majority of the snaps at tight end despite the presence of Dennis Pitta, who played his third game of the season Sunday. Dickson played 47 of the 76 offensive snaps. Pitta, who had four catches for 34 yards, played 30. Dallas Clark was a healthy scratch for the second time in three weeks.
--- Jameel McClain hogged the snaps at weak-wide linebacker and played three at middle linebacker when Daryl Smith got banged up a little bit in the first half. McClain ended up playing 57 of the 67 defensive snaps. Rookie Arthur Brown played 11 and Josh Bynes played just two. Smith, meanwhile, played 64 snaps.
--- Elvis Dumervil, listed as questionable with an ankle injury heading into the game, played just 27 snaps in the loss. Fellow strong-side linebacker Courtney Upshaw played 49, four fewer than rush linebacker Terrell Suggs. Pernell McPhee played 16 snaps.
--- After Joe Flacco was pulled from the game with two minutes left, Tyrod Taylor played eight snaps, but it did not go well. He rushed for 39 yards on three scrambles, but he threw a pick-six and a botched snap led to another Patriots touchdown. Flacco played the first 68 snaps despite being hobbled by a sore knee.
--- Nickel cornerback Corey Graham played just 23 snaps in the loss as the Patriots relied on two-receiver sets. Cornerback Jimmy Smith played all 67 snaps and Lardarius Webb played 66. Safeties James Ihedigbo and Matt Elam played every snap.
--- Wide receivers Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones played 69 snaps each. Marlon Brown played 68. Tandon Doss played 10, many of them coming in the final two minutes.
--- Fullback Vonta Leach played five snaps and he was not on the field for the 3rd-and-1 and 4th-and-1 plays the Ravens did not convert in the third quarter.
--- Nose tackle Haloti Ngata led all Ravens defensive linemen with 54 snaps played. Defensive tackle Arthur Jones played 40 and defensive end Chris Canty played 34. Backups Terrence Cody and DeAngelo Tyson played 21 and 19 snaps, respectively.
--- Seven Ravens played 20 or more snaps on special teams in the loss. Those players were Jeromy Miles, Anthony Levine, John Simon, Josh Bynes, Kyle Juszczyk, Chykie Brown and Brynden Trawick. Miles led the way with 30 special-teams snaps.
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