Carroll County Times

Ravens looking for better balance offensively

OWINGS MILLS - Forty-three pass attempts from quarterback Joe Flacco. Just nine carries for running back Ray Rice.

The numbers were skewed some by the fact the Ravens faced a three-score deficit by the end of the first half Sunday, but it was the continuation of a pass-run ratio that has been anything but balanced for Baltimore through the first half of the season.

The Ravens (5-2) threw the ball nearly 65 percent of the time during their first seven games.

Baltimore is ranked just 16th out of the NFL's 32 teams in total offense and Flacco is coming off one of the worst statistical performances of his career during the regular season.

Rice is averaging nearly five yards per carry, but ranks just eighth in the league in rushing yards.

"[We must focus on] how we are going to balance run and pass," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

Rice picked up 27 yards on three carries amid Baltimore's first offensive possession Sunday, helping to set up a Justin Tucker field goal, but carried the ball only six times the rest of the game.

The Ravens trailed 16-3 just nine seconds into the second quarter and saw their deficit expand to 29-3 by halftime.

Each of Baltimore's final seven drives of the first half ended in either a three-and-out, an interception or a safety.

Flacco was 7 of 20 for 52 yards and two interceptions during the half. He finished 21 of 43 for 147 yards with one touchdown and the two interceptions. His quarterback rating of 45.4 was one of the lowest marks of his career during the regular season.

Following their opening possession of the first quarter, the Ravens were outgained 413-131.

"We could have stayed with the run a little more patiently," Harbaugh said. "Once they [went up 16-3], we felt like we needed to try to get back in that thing a little bit more quickly because of the type of team they are. We probably all say we could have been a little bit more patient with the run - whether it's Ray Rice or Bernard Pierce or whoever it is."

Harbaugh mentioned the physical 6-foot, 218-pound Pierce as a player Baltimore would like to get more involved in its offense, calling him a nice complement to the elusive Rice.

Pierce was the Ravens' third-round pick in April's NFL draft.

He has 23 carries for 122 yards through the first seven games.

"Talking about the running game and getting the ball in Ray's hands a little, that's something we need to do with Bernard, too," Harbaugh said. "We need to get Bernard out there more. We need to get him some more carries and touches because he brings a different little style."

Harbaugh also plans to incorporate more of fullback Vonta Leach.

A Pro Bowler each of the last two seasons, Leach has been on the field for just 37 percent of Baltimore's offensive snaps this season.

"We want to use him more than that - absolutely," Harbaugh said. "He is handling it like a pro. He and I had a talk on the plane about it [Sunday]. He was great, but he wants to play, and he knows he can help us. He wants to be out there. You can't really guarantee that you're going to do this in one game and that in another game, but on average, Vonta Leach has got to play more than that."

Leach was in for 14 of the Ravens' 61 offensive plays Sunday.

"There are going to be some games where maybe he doesn't play as much," Harbaugh said. "I'm not defending what we decided to do in that game or what we didn't decide to do - it didn't work. We tried to get back in the game, and it didn't work. But yes, Vonta is a big part of what we're doing."

NOTE: Outside linebacker Sergio Kindle is expected to join the Ravens' practice squad, according to multiple reports.

He was released Saturday to make room for fellow outside linebacker Terrell Suggs on Baltimore's 53-man roster.

The Ravens' top pick in the 2010 NFL draft (43rd overall) out of the University of Texas, Kindle's career has been sidetracked by injuries suffered during a fall down a flight of stairs only months after being drafted.

Kindle fractured his skull during the fall, suffered permanent hearing loss in his left ear and sustained neurological damage that he acknowledged recently he's still in the process of recovering from.

He's appeared in just three games during his three NFL seasons - two last year and one this season, but showed flashes of his old form during the early part of training camp.

Kindle had 123 tackles, including 36 tackles for a loss and 15.5 sacks during his final two college seasons.

"We still think he has a chance," Harbaugh said. "We really think there's a possibility that he can grow into a player because we've seen some glimpses of it in practice."