Instead of essentially abandoning the running game as they did a week earlier during the second half of a 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Ravens made running back Ray Rice a vital part of the offense for most of the game Sunday night against the New England Patriots.
A 7-yard touchdown run by Rice briefly pushed the Ravens to a 21-20 advantage in the third quarter.
Giving the football to Rice continues to be an effective strategy for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Rice rushed for a game-high 101 yards on 20 carries, averaging 5.05 yards per carry. Rice also contributed three receptions but generated only 10 yards.
Cameron had drawn criticism for not calling Rice's number in any of the Ravens' short-yardage situations against the Eagles.
Just as the Ravens were building some momentum with Rice, though, rookie running back Bernard Pierce was brought into the game in the fourth quarter and was stuffed in the backfield short of the first down.
Belichick heckles the refs
Patriots coach Bill Belichick (Annapolis) apparently didn't get the memo from NFL senior vice president of football operations Ray Anderson warning coaches to not verbally bully the replacement officials.
Belichick was visibly irate after a questionable offensive pass interference call on Edelman JulianEdelmanthe first quarter where he was flagged for contact with Ravens cornerback Cary Williams. However, the contact appeared minimal . And it enraged Belichick, who was spotted yelling at the officials on at least one other occasion. The Patriots were forced to settle for a 49-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski. .
Welker gets deep
The reports of veteran wide receiver Wes Welker being phased out of the Patriots' offense appear to be premature.
When cornerback Lardarius Webb blitzed Tom Brady and free safety Ed Reed didn't hustle over in time, Brady launched a 59-yard pass to Welker.
There has been speculation that Welker, a franchise player, had fallen out of favor with the Patriots' organization due to his contract stalemate, a piece of business that played out far more publicly than the secretive AFC East franchise prefers.
A painful nerve impingement in his neck and shoulder has periodically affected EdReed for the past few seasons, occasionally hampering his tackling effectiveness.
However, that ailment didn't slow down the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year against the Patriots.
Reed crushed Edelman in the end zone when the wide receiver attempted to run a crossing pattern in front of him.
The huge hit dislodged the football, preventing a touchdown.
In the first half, Reed recorded a game-high seven tackles, one for a loss, with a pass deflection.
Days before kickoff, Reed reflected on the constant chess match with Brady.
"He's always playing the game with you, so to say," Reed said. "He's great in his checks and everything and in taking his time. He's a very patient quarterback. With that being said, the success he's had in his career makes it a challenge in itself. Brady, he's a good quarterback, man, a hell of a competitor."
Despite suffering a rib contusion a week ago, strong safety Bernard Pollard started and appeared to have no issues with the injury.
Pollard got injured the previous week while sacking Eagles quarterback Michael Vick in the first quarter and didn't return.
He had three tackles by halftime.
One week after outside linebacker Sergio Kindle was active against the Eagles, the former second-round draft pick was a healthy scratch.
Kindle had a tackle against the Eagles, but didn't mount much of a pass rush. Offensive tackle Jah Reid (strained right calf) was also inactive.
Rookie cornerback Asa Jackson, tight end Billy Bajema, defensive lineman DeAngelo Tyson and Bryan Hall and wide receiver LaQuan Williams were all inactive for the third consecutive game.
The Patriots scratched tight end Aaron Hernandez (sprained ankle), running back Shane Vereen, cornerback Alfonzo Dennard, center Nick McDonald and defensive linemen Brandon Deaderick, Jake Bequette and Justin Francis. ... Before kickoff, Johns Hopkins lacrosse coach Dave Pietramala spent some time huddling on the field with Belichick, a lacrosse enthusiast and close friend. ... Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps and his model girlfriend, Megan Rossee, were on the field before the game. ... The Ravens' game captains were defensive tackle Haloti Ngata, offensive guard Marshal Yanda and backup safety James Ihedigbo, a former Patriots starter. ... Javier Colon, the winner of The Voice, an NBC television singing competition, sang the national anthem.
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