Eyebrows were raised around the NFL when Ravens running back Ray Rice wasn't involved at all during the fourth quarter of a 23-20 loss Sunday night to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
It was Rice who salvaged the Ravens' overtime win over the San Diego Chargers with a dramatic 4th-and-29 conversion. And the Pro Bowl runner eluded defenders by reversing field for a 34-yard touchdown run in the third quarter against the Steelers.
So, it was surprising when Rice didn't get a single touch against Pittsburgh in the fourth quarter after rushing for 78 yards and a touchdown on a dozen carries through three quarters.
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With 198 carries, Rice has gained 872 yards and scored eight touchdowns to rank behind the other NFL rushing leaders: Minnesota Vikings' Adrian Peterson (234 carries, 1,446 yards, eight touchdowns); the Seattle Seahawks' Marshawn Lynch (250 carries, 1,138 yards, six touchdowns); the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Doug Martin (236 carries, 1,106 yards, nine touchdowns); the Washington Redskins' Alfred Morris (230 carries, 1,106 yards, six touchdowns), the Houston Texans' Arian Foster (283 carries, 1,102 yards, 13 touchdowns); the Kansas City Chiefs' Jamaal Charles (222 carries, 1,055 yards, three touchdowns); the New England Patriots' Stevan Ridley (225 carries, 1,010 yards, nine touchdowns); the Tennessee Titans' Chris Johnson (204 carries, 993 yards, four touchdowns), the San Francisco 49ers' Frank Gore (199 carries, 972 yards, six touchdowns), Spiller (137 carries, 907 yards, five touchdowns and the Cincinnati Bengals' BenJarvus Green-Ellis (226 carries, 885 yards, five touchdowns).
Rice, who has also caught 49 passes for 409 yards, wasn't involved, much to the consternation of a vocal majority of the fan base.
The Ravens gained a dozen yards in the fourth quarter with just one first down on a 12-yard pass to fullback Vonta Leach, leading to the lack of involvement for Rice.
Rice maintained his usual approach to questions about his workload, declining the opportunity to gripe about not getting the football as much as other standout backs.
"Situational football came into play," Rice said. "Could we have run the ball on situations? If we would have executed better, I'm sure I would have gotten the touches. That wouldn't have been the question.
Going forward, we are going to work on our execution and my touches will definitely come."
Rice is on pace to rush for 1,162 yards after gaining a career-high 1,364 yards last season. He ranks 13th in the NFL rushing attempts.
"I think 13th right now is OK because we have been winning games," Rice said. "We will find a way to get the ball into our playmakers' hands. Obviously, I think I'm a playmaker for this team. The coaches, we'll find a way to get me the ball. One thing I don't like is being forced the ball.
"Being forced the ball sometimes, that's not always in your best interest because you are being forced into a defense that is already preparing for you. Getting smart touches and getting touches that I can make a big play, that's something that I get excited about."
Jimmy Smith returns
Cornerback Jimmy Smith practiced on a limited basis, the first time he's participated since undergoing sports hernia surgery last month.
Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs didn't practice due to a torn right biceps.
Meanwhile, tight end Ed Dickson (hyperextended right knee) and inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (right foot, ankle) didn't practice. Ravens coach John Harbaugh indicated Monday that both they might have a chance to return for Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins.
Six players were limited, including linebacker Josh Bynes (thigh), safety James Ihedigbo (calf), cornerback Chris Johnson (strained hamstring), wide receiver Jacoby Jones (ankle) and safety Ed Reed (torn shoulder labrum).
The Ravens will have recent history on their side as they try to rebound Sunday at FedEx Field.
Under Harbaugh, the Ravens have won 15 consecutive games following a loss. It's the longest streak in the NFL.
During those games, the Ravens outscored opponents, 441-249, and won by an average margin of 12.8 points. They're 18-4 following a loss in the Harbaugh era.