Hardly anyone could blame Ray Rice if he got a little excited after learning Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie Doug Martin had rushed for 251 yards and scored four touchdowns in last Sunday’s 42-32 win against the Oakland Raiders – who are the Ravens’ opponent this Sunday.
But Rice said he fully expects Oakland to spend this week of preparation fixing the run defense and containing Rice and rookie Bernard Pierce.
“That’s a prideful bunch,” Rice said Wednesday. “I’m sure they are going to come in here with a high motor. Same way our defense feels when a guy goes for over 200 [yards], they aren’t happy with it. … The inside guys are not happy with what happened. We know that their first mode is going to come here to say stop the run. It’s going to be our job to execute against that.”
Prior to Martin’s outburst, the Raiders had been decent against opposing tailbacks, allowing just the Miami Dolphins’ Reggie Bush and the Denver Broncos’ Willis McGahee to compile more than 100 yards this season.
But Martin scored his first three touchdowns on runs of 45, 67 and 70 yards before capping his day with a one-yard plunge. After reviewing the game, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said he couldn’t find anything wrong schematically with Oakland’s defense.
“The bottom line is, the Raiders missed three tackles and the three tackles that they missed gave them 180 yards,” Cameron said Thursday. “Oakland, they had three unblocked guys on all those long runs and they missed the tackle, so they’re not looking at their scheme. I read where their coaches were talking about what the bottom line is, they’ve got to tackle better. It’s probably not what everybody thought, but the bottom line is, to be a good running team in this league, you’ve got to be able to break tackles.”
The Raiders would prefer not to repeat that showing against Rice this Sunday, but even coach Dennis Allen was unsure what would unfold at M&T; Bank Stadium.
“We’ll find that out on Sunday,” Allen said when asked if the team had addressed its problems. “We got a chance to look at the tape. We got a chance to talk about what we need to do and how we need to get things corrected. We have to tackle better. We’ve got another huge challenge this week because we have another outstanding back in Ray Rice. He’s been in this league for a long time. We’ve got our work cut out for us, not only against Ray Rice, but against the whole Baltimore team.”
The Ravens are leery about tipping their hand for Sunday’s game, and coach John Harbaugh said he is anticipating a renewed effort from Oakland’s defense.
“They can play a lot better against the run. They do play better against the run,” Harbaugh said. “There are four or five plays in there that just went big for them. You see all those other players where they do a great job, and they’ve got a real physical front. They’re mammoth. They play really hard on defense.”