While everyone knows that New England is well known for its seafood and chowder, they seemed to fill up pretty quickly on rice yesterday and probably will be glad not to see it on their "plates" any time in the near future.
Of course the "rice" the New England Patriots had enough of is the Baltimore Ravens second year running back, Ray Rice, who has proved himself one of the league's premier all-purpose RB's this season by adding 1,339 rushing yards and 702 receiving yards for 2,141 all-purpose yards during the regular part of the season.
To that he added 159 rushing yards, including a backbreaking 83 yarder for a score on the game's first play from scrimmage in yesterday's impressive 33-14 Wild Card victory over the Patriots in Foxboro, Massachusetts.
Despite being a "diminutive" 5'8" and 210 pounds, he's proven to be extremely difficult to be brought down by the first hit and is also as elusive as any other RB in the league. His 7.2 average per carry proved yesterday that his initial carry was not a fluke and despite the Patriots focus on stopping the Ravens running game, it just was not even able to just slow it down. Willis McGahee added 62 yards and the team finished with 234 yards on 52 attempts and four touchdowns. New England had only given up a total of six rushing TD's all season and the Ravens managed to score three in just the first quarter!
Who cares that Baltimore's Joe Flacco threw the ball only ten times, completing only four for a paltry 34 yards and a 10.0 QB rating? His one long completion for 17 yards to Mark Clayton in the fourth quarter contributed to the Ravens 63% 3rd down efficiency rate and extended the drive for the team's final touchdown. During that drive, Flacco also ran seven yards for a key first down that the Ravens needed to challenge in order to get the correct ball placement and ultimately seal the game away.
Besides, what was even more surprising than Flacco's 10.0 QB rating was the Patriots' Tom Brady's 49.1 rating, which obviously led more to the Ravens success than Flacco's did to hurt it.
Many people have already said that Flacco had better improve on those stats if the Ravens think they have any chance to go into Indianapolis and beat the Colts. However, everyone, including me, would have thought the same thing before this game and look what happened. as long a steams continue to stack the box and stop the Ravens run game, they risk what will happen if the RB gets through the line to the second level, as the Patriots found out big time on the game's first offensive play.
Ray Rice might be small in size compared to the typical bruising back, but he is deceptively strong as well as fast and elusive, and now makes offense game plan for him. But so far, try as they may, he has still gotten his yards behind a great run blocking offensive line that would be happy to rush the ball 50 times per game from here on out.