But compounding matters, Rice has struggled after initial contact. Pro Football Focus credits Rice for breaking just three tackles this season. Only one other back with more than 40 rushing attempts — the Miami Dolphins' Lamar Miller — has broken fewer.

Though never really known to break a ton of tackles — he broke 20 last year according to Pro Football Focus — Rice traditionally does get more yards after contact than the 1.6 that he's averaging this year.

Still, retired Steelers running back and current ESPN analyst Jerome Bettis doesn't see Rice as the problem, noting that he hasn't seen him missing "holes or reads."

"As a running back, it's really difficult because we don't get the opportunity to decide our fate. We need the offensive line to block for us and give us the opportunity to get to the hole. But if you can't even get to the hole, you can't impact the game like you want to," Bettis said. "He needs 20 to 30 touches. That's the kind of running back he is. They are doing him a disservice by not getting him the football more."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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Ray Rice is on pace for his worst season since his rookie year in 2008.

Past four seasons avg;Projected total this season

No. of carries;277;227

Rushing yards;1,266;630

Rushing yards per game;79;39

Receptions;70;64

Receiving yards;610;278

Total touchdowns;10;10