For the past 12 days, Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice has had to answer questions about his role in the Ravens' offense. He carried the ball 10 times in a blowout win over the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1, and the Ravens were wise to go with Bernard Pierce and Anthony Allen to wind down the clock late instead of risking an injury to their $40-million investment in garbage time. But still, there were questions about how he fit in when they went no-huddle, which has become a buzzword not only in Baltimore, but in the NFL, where more than half of the teams in the league have dabbled with the no-huddle this season. The questions became more pointed and even more prevalent after the Ravens unsuccessfully threw the ball in six short-yardage situations and after Rice didn't receive a carry on third or fourth down in the first two games. In the 31-30 win over the New England Patriots on Sunday night, the Ravens again relied on the no-huddle to move the ball up and down the field. But this time, Rice was heavily involved. He rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown on a season-high 20 carries. According to the post-game stats handout we get in the press box, 13 of those carries came when the Ravens were using the no-huddle and he totaled 66 yards and a touchdown with those 13 carries. He also had a 19-yard run that was negated by an Anquan Boldin holding penalty. Plus, Rice was targeted five times by Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and caught each of those throws for a total of 49 yards. "We say tempo, we say no-huddle. But it depends on who we're playing," said Rice, who has taken the high road when asked about his workload and who insists his role has never changed. "Every team we play is going to be different. We did have a tempo today that worked." This win was more about Flacco going throw for throw with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady again. Flacco bounced back from an inefficient first quarter that included an ugly interception to throw for 382 yards and three touchdown passes. A lot of pigskin pundits have broken their ankles jumping on and off the Flacco bandwagon these past three weeks. But right now, the Ravens rank second in the league in scoring with 98 points, one fewer than the Washington Redskins. And on Sunday night, they showed they can keep one of the best running backs in football involved without taking their foot off the gas pedal. That's a pretty scary thought -- one that the offensive coaching staff needs to keep fresh in everyone's minds going forward.
Kenneth K. Lam / The Baltimore Sun