Carroll County Times

Ravens notebook: Running game continues to struggle

BALTIMORE - On a first-down play early in the third quarter, Ravens running back Ray Rice took a carry out of the shotgun formation, went over a Steelers defender, and gained nine yards.
Rice immediately got up, pumped his fists in excitement, and was fired up heading back to line up for the next play.
That was the only run Rice would be able to celebrate in Thursday's game.
It was his only run longer than four yards. And 10 of his 12 carries were for three yards or less.
The Baltimore running back has struggled all season. He entered Thursday averaging just 2.9 yards per carry. And he had just 450 rushing yards, with 131 of those in the Week 10 loss to the Bears.
Rice had just 32 yards on 12 carries, a 2.7 average, Thursday, and wasn't even able to capitalize in short-yardage situations. Late in the third quarter, Rice could only muster two yards on a third-and-6 at the Pittsburgh 7-yard line. The Ravens had to settle for a field goal.
He was also stuffed on a First-and-goal at the Pittsburgh 1 on Baltimore's first drive.
Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said earlier this season he would give the majority of carries in the game to whichever running back was being more productive, whether that was Rice or second-year back Bernard Pierce.
Rice had more carries Thursday, but Pierce still had his fair share and Rice was on the sidelines for several whole drives.
Pierce finished with 35 yards on nine carries.
Despite the running game being nonexistent, the Ravens have still been able to improve to 6-6 and remain in the thick of the AFC wild card race.
CONTROVERSY?: Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones had a long 73-yard return in the third quarter. However, Jones wasn't pleased. He might have been able to score a touchdown.
While Jones was sprinting down the sideline in front of the Steelers bench, Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin was standing close to the field. Although Tomlin had his back to Jones, he got closer to the field when Jones ran by him.
From Jones' body language, it appeared he thought Tomlin may have been too close.
Not long after, there was numerous replays of the incident shown on the large video screens at the stadium. The crowd booed, and when the camera panned to Tomlin, he smiled.
STREAKING: Justin Tucker kicked five field goals to extend his streak of made field goals to 27. Tucker has been perfect since missing a pair of field goals against the Browns Week 2, his lone blemishes on the season.
The most important of Tucker's field goals was his last, and longest. He drilled a 48-yarder to extend Baltimore's lead to 22-14 with 5 minutes, 37 seconds to go.
In the last two games, Tucker has kicked nine field goals.
ABSENT WILDCAT: Earlier in the week, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco expressed his distaste for the Wildcat formation that Baltimore ran nearly a dozen times last week against the Jets with backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor. He said it made the Ravens look like a "high school team."
On Thursday, the Ravens never lined up in the Wildcat formation and Taylor never entered the game.
INJURY REPORT: Baltimore outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil left in the second quarter with an ankle sprain. But he later returned to the game.
Steelers defensive end Brett Keisel left with a left foot injury in the first quarter, and was out for the rest of the game. He had missed the last two games because of a foot injury.
Ravens wide receiver Brandon Stokley left with a knee sprain in the second quarter and was out for the remainder of the game. He had two catches for 27 yards.
Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell suffered a head injury on the Steelers' final drive. Bell's helmet was knocked off just shy of the end zone. He was tested for a possible concussion shortly after the play.
INACTIVES: Brynden Trawick (high ankle sprain) was the lone Ravens player inactive because of injury. He was joined on the inactive list by Omar Brown, Bernard Scott, Ryan Jensen, Deonte Thompson, John Simon, and Brandon Williams.
It was the fifth straight game Simon has been inactive and the third time in four games for Williams.
The most notable inactive for Pittsburgh was outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley. Woodley has five sacks this season, but has a calf injury.