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Tag:Baltimore Ravens
Posted on: November 22, 2011 3:01 pm
 

Pick-6 Podcast: Thanksgiving Games Preview

Posted by Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

It took 15 minutes of football for the Patriots offense to get warmed up Monday night, but once they did they made easy work of the Chiefs, who were forced to start journeyman quarterback Tyler Palko.

What does the win mean for New England? In the short term, it puts a little more distance between them and the rest of the AFC East. Taking the longer view, the Patriots have one more "tough" game -- the Eagles in Week 13 -- then it's smooth sailing until the playoffs.

The Chiefs, meanwhile, are in desperate need of a quarterback. Palko lacks arm strength and accuracy, and it's reasonable to think that Kansas City will invite some veterans in to work out.

We also preview the three Thanksgiving Day games: can the Lions upset the Packers? Do the Dolphins really have a chance to beat the Cowboys? And what are we to make of Harbaugh Bowl I?

We talk about that and more. (Also note: we'll be back Friday for a quick rest-of-Week 12 preview podcast. Enjoy the turkey, everybody.) 

Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes?

If you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.



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Posted on: November 21, 2011 2:15 am
Edited on: November 21, 2011 12:23 pm
 

Sorting the Sunday Pile: Week 11

Posted by Will Brinson


Sorting the Sunday Pile takes all of Sunday's NFL action and figures out the most important storylines for you to digest. Send your complaints, questions and comments to Will Brinson on Twitter. Make sure and listen to our Week 10 podcast review below as well and feel free to subscribe via iTunes.

 

1. Bear Down

The only thing surprising about Chicago's 31-20 victory -- their fifth-straight win -- over the Chargers was that the Bears let San Diego keep it that close. But not all is good news in Chicago right now, as multiple reports indicate that quarterback Jay Cutler suffered a broken thumb during Sunday's game, may need surgery and could be lost for the season.

At a minimum, Cutler's likely to miss six weeks, so let's assume he's done for the regular season. So can the Bears still make the playoffs? Well, surprisingly, yes, but it obviously won't be easy.

If the Bears beat three of their final six opponents (we'll guess the Vikings, the Seahawks and the Chiefs) they'll finish 10-6. No one from the NFC West will cause any damage and it looks like Chicago just has to fight off the Giants or the Cowboys, the Lions and the Falcons.

They've got the tiebreaker over Atlanta, although right now the Bears lose out to the Lions because of division record. (Fortunately for them, Detroit has to play Green Bay twice.)

And Chicago has a formula for winning games without a ton of offense. The Bears defense knows how to score and Devin Hester can alter the outcome of a game every time he stands back to return a kick. The passing game should all but disappear, however.

Which means that Chicago will lean heavily on a below-average offensive line and ... Matt Forte.

Perhaps they should reconsider their stance about paying him after all.

2. Little Giants

Everyone always expects the Giants to swoon late in the season (because it's something they do, which is fair I suppose) but this year looked different after New York's win over New England two weeks ago and a tough loss in San Francisco last week.

Until Sunday night, when the Giants coughed up a 17-10 loss to the Vince Young-led Eagles anyway.

"This is as big a disappointment as we have had around here in a long time," coach Tom Coughlin said Sunday.

It should be, because things aren't going to get easier for Coughlin's squad any time soon. They face the Saints in New Orleans next week and then welcome the potentially undefeated Packers to New York in Week 13 before squaring off against the Cowboys in Dallas in Week 14.

That's about as big a nightmare as a schedule can be for an NFC East that just kicked itself out of the playoffs, and the Jets still loom, as does a second matchup with Dallas.

The Eagles wanted to give away this game too. DeSean Jackson had a ridiculous taunting penalty that (also somewhat ridiculously) resulted in a loss of 50 yards for the Eagles. Vince Young had three terrible picks. LeSean McCoy never really got going (53 yards on 22 carries before his final 60-yard run to end the game). Riley Cooper was the top receiver.

But the Giants wanted it less, and couldn't get any offense going, as receivers egged on easy passes and the offensive line got no push. Some of the playcalling was suspect, and it put the Giants in a pretty untenable position late in the game.

Which is probably fitting since that's where their 2011 season stands as well.

And even though it's OK to anticipate a Giants swoon, let's hold off on talking about the Eagles running the table just quite yet, please. We were here three weeks ago when they handled the Cowboys too.


3. Missing Pieces

One look at Cincinnati's 31-24 loss to Baltimore, and it's pretty clear how much the Bengals missed wide receiver A.J. Green and cornerback Leon Hall.

Andy Dalton got a shot at boosting his Rookie of the Year stock on Cincy's final drive, but came up short when the Ravens defensive line stepped up in a big way in their own red zone. Dalton missed Andrew Hawkins on first down, was busted for intentional grounding on second, threw incomplete to Jerome Simpson on third and was sacked by Pernell McPhee on fourth. One has to wonder how the goal line playcalling changes if Green's in the game.

On defense, the previously stout Bengals unit was gashed by the Ravens own rookie, Torrey Smith. Smith notched six catches for 165 yards, one touchdown and a number of different catches where he was wide open but made some fantastic grabs on throws from Joe Flacco that was a bit off.

There were three big plays that stand out for Baltimore's passing game: a 35-yard touchdown catch by Anquan Boldin (he was wide open), Smith's 38-yard TD (also wide open) and a 49-yard bomb that Smith reeled in near the goal line, where he just torched Nate Clements (watch below).


It's clearly not a coincidence when a team loses its best cornerback and subsequently gives up a bunch of big passing plays the next week.

And lest we leave this game without pointing out the obvious, the Ravens won once again when Ray Rice was productive and got more than five carries. That's not a coincidence either.

4. Silent Bob Strikes Back

Three weeks ago, Kevin Smith was unemployed, sitting at home, doing nothing. Or signing himself to various Madden rosters, which is even more depressing. On Sunday, he piled up 201 all-purpose yards, revived the Lions rushing attack, and was the catalyst in a 49-35 comeback win for the Lions over the Panthers that kept Detroit at the forefront of the NFC Wild Card race.

It's an awesome story, and Smith deserves all the love he's getting from analysts and all the love he got from the Detroit sideline every time he scored on his three touchdowns.

Three questions stand out to me with respect to Detroit's playoff hopes. 1) Can they avoid early deficits? 2) Can Smith sustain this success? 3) Did Matthew Stafford get healthy at halftime?

With no running game and an injured Stafford, the Lions look like the walking dead against Chicago last week. It was much of the same story in the first quarter against the Panthers, as Stafford threw two picks, looked terrible and the Lions mustered less than 10 yards on four rushes. But a Keiland Williams fumble with 2:30 left in the first quarter gave way to Smith, and he started off his second-chance Lions career with a 43-yard run and followed it up with a 28-yard touchdown catch on the next play.

If Smith is the answer -- and I'm not completely sold yet, but only because a one-legged homeless guy off the street could put 100 yards on that Panthers defense -- and Stafford's healthy, the answer to question No. 1 should be "yes."

We'll find out when Detroit plays Green Bay (twice) and New Orleans over the next six weeks whether they can avoid needing comebacks to win. If they can, there won't be a question about whether or not the Lions are playoff-worthy.

5. More Like a Tropical Storm

For 149 consecutive weeks of NFL action, a former Miami Hurricane has scored a touchdown. Consider that there are 17 weeks in each NFL season, and it works out to more than eight and a half years since a Hurricane failed to score in the NFL. That's bananas.

And yet we sit here, heading into Monday night's Patriots-Chiefs matchup and no member of "The U" has scored in Week 11. (Yes, this is considerably ironic since the 'Canes announced Sunday they wouldn't accept a bowl bid.)

Complicating matters for fans of Miami is the fact that it's pretty unlikely that a Hurricane will score on Monday night. There are only two players left that went to school in Coral Gables: Allen Bailey, a rookie defensive end for the Chiefs who's played in nine games, started none and recorded four tackles, and Vince Wilfork, veteran defensive tackle for the Pats who's inexplicably got two interceptions this season.

Wilfork's the best bet to score, but it'll almost certainly have to come on a fumble in the end zone or a red-zone interception. We've already seen Wilfork try to take on to the house this season, and it didn't work well.

So if you see Bill Belichick trot Wilfork out in a goal line formation during a late-game blowout, you know why. Of course, that alone would totally be worth seeing "The U" continue to tout itself as a producer of fine athletics.

Perhaps the craziest part of Miami alums not scoring? As pointed out Monday by my colleague Bruce Feldman, ex-Cane Kellen Winslow scored a touchdown but it was called back because he pushed off a defender. That defender was Sam Shields ... also a Miami alum.

6. The Jermaine Gresham Rule

I understand that Gresham actually fell victim to the "Calvin Johnson Rule" but he might deserve his subsection at the very least if/when the NFL addresses this disastrous rule.

See, the rule got the nickname when Calvin Johnson lost possession in the end zone. But that's the key -- he was in the end zone. Johnson caught the ball there and then lost it there. (Watch here at the 2:20 mark.)

Gresham, on the other hand, actually crossed the plain with possession. He had his feet in-bounds.

If he was a running back, we wouldn't have this issue, right? I'm pretty sure we wouldn't. Because possession would've been established (vis-a-vis the handoff, etc).

Technically, the officials got the call right, because Gresham lost possession as he fell to the ground, and he didn't make a "football-related move" inside the end zone.

But if you are in possession of the ball and cross the plain with said possession, that should be a done deal, right there. That's the reason why the goal line extends in hypothetical perpetuity. If a running back dives into the end zone over a big pile of people and fumbles after the ball's crossed the plain, it's a touchdown.

But if a wide receiver crosses the plain with possession of the ball, gets a freaking foot into the end zone and then doesn't maintain control all the way to the ground -- even if he had possession before he got into the end zone! -- it doesn't count?

Come on. That makes no sense. Let's fix it, please.

7. Chris Johnson Is 'Back,' Alright

Over the last week, I was repeatedly blistered by people who didn't believe me when I said that Chris Johnson was not "back" to his CJ2K form, despite a 130-yard rushing effort against the Panthers.

I watched that game closely, and what stood out to me was that Johnson's effort and burst and general running ability didn't mesh with the statistics he produced.

After Sunday's 23-17 loss to Atlanta, well, there's no question that Johnson's 2011 season remains lost. The Titans leading rusher in Week 11 was Matt Hasselbeck (one carry, 17 yards). Matt Ryan had a higher yards-per-carry average than Johnson. There were nine -- NINE! -- quarterbacks with more rushing yards than Johnson in Week 11, and it was almost ten as well as two on his own team:


If you take out Johnson's "long" run of the day, he finished with seven rushing yards on 11 carries. That's just flat-out embarrassing and any opponent with a modicum of rush defense can shut him down and make him ineffective.

That's really quite a shame, too, because Hasselbeck's renaissance season would be a lot more interesting with a rushing attack.

And while I'm doing rookie Jake Locker a disservice by not pointing out how good he was in backup duty for Tennessee, it's not as big a disservice as Johnson is doing to the team and the rookie quarterback who might have to overcome one of the most-talented backs in the NFL getting paid and totally disappearing from relevancy.

8. Moore Please

There's a fun little debate about whether the Dolphins, on a three-game winning streak that seemed unfathomable just, um, three weeks ago -- or the Bills -- on three-game losing streak after holding with the AFC East lead as late as the middle of October -- are the bigger story after Miami knocked Buffalo around 35-8.

But maybe the bigger story is the convergence of these two teams on a metaphorical NFL elevator, with the Dolphins trying their best to get out of the lobby and the Bills falling like Dennis Hopper rigged their ride.

To me, it might just be more about these two teams playing closer to what we expected. Buffalo's early-season run was an awesome storyline, but it was unsustainable, particularly with the loss of Eric Wood at center and Kyle Williams on the defensive line. Add in defenses figuring out that the Bills don't have a legit deep threat, and it's no surprise that they're not winning anymore.

Although considering the ridiculous amount of money they handed Ryan Fitzpatrick, they'd probably like to see something resembling offense. At least there aren't a ton of great quarterbacks in this upcoming draft class!

The Dolphins will likely be taking a quarterback at some point in the upcoming draft, but the question is how high they'll be picking, and that largely depends on how sustainable Matt Moore's current level of play under center is. Well, history tells us it's actually possible for him to succeed the rest of the way in.

In 2009, while playing with the Panthers, Moore stepped in for Jake Delhomme and closed out a lost season with a shocking 4-1 record for Carolina that saw him average 16 of 25 passing (62.7 percent) for 198 yards and two touchdowns per game. And that was in a John Fox offense, no less.

Don't expect him to backdoor the Pro Bowl or anything, but don't be surprised when the once-hapless Dolphins keep playing spoiler because Moore keeps streaking.

9. Best Draft Class ... Ever?

I've noted in this spot a couple times in the past few weeks that the 2011 NFL Draft class is one of the best we've seen in a long time, and maybe, dare I say, ever.

The first seven picks of the draft have been outstanding thus far into the season, and that doesn't even factor in Andy Dalton or DeMarco Murray, who might be the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year honors.

Well, two more guys made their mark on Sunday for this class.

Jake Locker entered the game for an injured Matt Hasselbeck against the Falcons on Sunday, and proceeded to nearly lead the Titans to a comeback, completing nine of 19 passes for 140 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. Atlanta was up 23-3 at the time, so it's not like they were playing their opening-game defense, but Locker looked darn good in relief duty and the Titans should be excited, even though Hasselbeck will remain the starter.

Prince Amukamara, who the Giants took at 19th overall when he fell past Houston, made his first start on Sunday and also picked up his first career interception, while generally looking like a veteran against the Eagles. And yes, it still counts as an interception, even if Vince Young threw it.

10. Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

Early in the season, the Thanksgiving games contained only a little bit of drama, thanks to the Harbaugh family reunion in Baltimore. But suddenly we've got three of the best games in the NFL taking place on Thursday, and one of the most memorable Turkey Day slates we've seen in a while.

All six teams playing on Thursday won on Sunday and, collectively, those six teams are on a 26-game winning streak this season.

The Lions and Packers square off with Detroit getting its first shot at ending the Packers undefeated season, the Cowboys have a shot at really generating some separation in the NFC East as they host the inexplicably hot Dolphins and the Ravens/49ers square off to determine who gets all the pie at the Harbaugh household.

It's a collection of three fantastic games and it's almost enough to make me boycott my family's lunch-time festivities away from electronics. Thank goodness for DVR. And 200-person pot-luck lunches.

MUFFED PUNTS

Leftovers from Sunday's action ...
... Cam Newton set the rookie record for rushing touchdowns on Sunday (twice, technically) as he's got nine on the season now.
... Aaron Rodgers is just the second quarterback in history to throw for 3,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in his team's first 10 games; the other was Tom Brady in 2007.
... 2011 is the first season in NFL history to feature three quarterbacks with 3,000 yards and 20 or more touchdowns through 10 games, as Rodgers, Drew Brees and Brady all met the criteria this year.
... The Dolphins became just the third team in NFL history to win three straight games after losing their first seven or more games.
... After Keloah Pilares' TD return, six 100-yard kick returns have happened so far in 2011, which is one short of the NFL record.
... The Lions became the first team in NFL history to record three comebacks of more than 17 points in a single season on Sunday.

WORTH 1,000 WORDS


GIF O' THE WEEK

No Michael Vick and too many Vince Young interceptions make Andy Reid go something-something.


Hot Seat Tracker

  • Mike Shanahan: Six losses in a row for the Redskins, who showed some promise by only losing in overtime. Or something.
  • Norv Turner -- The Chargers keep collapsing and there's nothing promising about their schedule. Three games against Jacksonville, Denver and Buffalo have to mean 2-1 at worst, or it might be time for Turner to move on.
  • Todd Haley: If the Pats whip the Chiefs on Monday night while the Raiders and Broncos keep winning, his seat just gets warmer.
  • Jim Caldwell: The Colts were upset by their bye. What can I say?
  • Steve Spagnuolo: I don't really understand the heat, but it's there.
  • Tom Coughlin: Also don't understand this heat, but let's just go ahead and get out front on this before the fans do.

Chasing Andrew Luck

Colts (-1000): Haha, but no really, they were upset by their bye. Do you see?
Vikings (+125): See: below.
Panthers (+150): The Colts have to win two games.
Rams (+250): Again, it would require the Colts winning games.
Redskins (+300): If only they hadn't won three games early.

MVP Watch

Despite playing -- ahem -- "poorly," Aaron Rodgers is still the clear-cut favorite to win the MVP at season's end. I'm not sure what it would take to derail him, but I think it's probably an injury and an injury only. Tom Brady's got a shot to come from the outside because he's Tom Brady and the Pats schedule stinks, but if the Packers go undefeated, he won't have a chance. Meanwhile, I still like Tony Romo to get darkhorse candidacy by Week 14. Maybe we should just talk about the other awards.
Posted on: November 20, 2011 10:19 am
Edited on: November 20, 2011 12:22 pm
 

Ray Lewis out for Bengals game, maybe more?

Lewis hasn't missed a start since the 2007 season. (US PRESSWIRE)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

As has happened pretty much since the organization arrived from Cleveland in the mid-1990s, the defense has been among the best in the league, doing their part to annually keep the Ravens in the playoff race. In a critical AFC North matchup Sunday, Baltimore will be without one of their best players: linebacker Ray Lewis, who won't play because of a toe injury. It gets worse: Lewis could be sidelined for two to four games, which includes the Thanksgiving Day Harbaugh get-together when the Ravens host the 49ers.

The Ravens are coming off their worst loss of the season in Seattle, which is saying something given that they have also dropped games to the Titans and the Jaguars. If we're pointing fingers, the offense -- and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron -- is primarily responsible. Now the offense will be tasked with carrying the team.

NFL Network's Jason La Canfora provided details during Sunday's GameDay Morning.

"Talked to team officials there, they don't believe that doctors would've let (Lewis) play even if Ray went through one of his two-hour marathon sessions to try to convince people he could play," La Canfora said. "But they're not ruling him out for Thursday. He told team officials 'I feel like I'm going to play in one of these two games.'

"People in (the organization) … said they know Ray, they believe he'll play (on Thursday)."

Depending on what happens against the Bengals, who will be without rookie wideout A.J. Green, Ray's return could come too late for the Ravens. If they lose to Cincy, they'll drop to third in the division; if they win, they'll be first.

Dannell Ellerbe will replace Lewis in the lineup Sunday.

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Posted on: November 19, 2011 10:03 pm
 

Ed Reed sympathizes with Ochocinco

C. Ochocinco has struggled this year, which has surprised E. Reed (US Presswire).Posted by Josh Katzowitz

How far has Chad Ochocinco fallen? One of his old rivals, Ravens safety Ed Reed, said he’s rooting for him and that he misses him. That's when you know things aren't going well for you.

“I’m kind of wondering where is Chad, all the noise that you usually hear,” Reed said, via the Baltimore Sun.

Reed isn’t hearing it, because Ochocinco has been irrelevant for the Patriots, catching only 11 passes and scoring exactly zero touchdowns.

Against Reed, though, Ochocinco had plenty of success. In 18 career games vs. Baltimore when he was with Bengals, Ochocinco caught 91 passes for 1,361 yards (both of which are the most he’s accumulated against any other opponent) and seven touchdowns. But these days, Ochocinco has become invisible in New England.

His absence has surprised Reed.

“You start to see some true things when guys start to get moved around in different leagues,” Reed said. “I would’ve thought that he still would’ve been a great receiver, especially over there in New England. But obviously, there’s something that’s not right. So I hope Chad gets it together because I know he’s still a great player and has still got great attributes about him.”

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Posted on: November 18, 2011 6:42 pm
Edited on: November 18, 2011 8:30 pm
 

NFL fines Flacco $7.5K for horse-collar tackle

If the NFL has a fine schedule why were Polamalu and Flacco given different fines for the same offense? (Getty Images/AP)

Posted by Ryan Wilson

No one, it seems, is immune to the the long arm of the NFL law responsible for handing out punishments to weekly rules-breakers. The latest unlikely target to end up in the league's crosshairs: Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who was fined $7,500 for his horse-collar tackle on the Seahawks' David Hawthorne last weekend.

Only knowing this, you might think, "Good. The league doesn't consider quarterbacks, its most prized possession, above the rules."

Sort of. For starters, Flacco gets fewer roughing-the-passer calls than almost every other quarterback in the league. So it's not like he's Tom Brady or Drew Brees when it comes to officials giving him the benefit of the doubt

But then there's this: Flacco's fine was half what the NFL fined Troy Polmalu for his horse-collar tackle on Ravens running back Ricky Williams. And before you note that the league punishes repeat offenders more heavily than first-timers, the Polamalu-on-Williams crime took place in Week 1.

It seems like the NFL is arbitrarily handing out fines. "But the NFL has a fine schedule," you might point out. "One that explicitly lays out how much players can expect to fork over for every infraction." 

Well let's take a look. Under the heading "Player Safety Rules and/or Flagrant Personal Foul (including, without limitation)" is the following:
Horse Collar Tackle: $15,000 / $30,000
We take this to mean that a first offense will cost you $15,000 and subsequent offenses will cost you $30,000.

So why was Flacco fined $7,500?

A league source tells CBSSports.com that Flacco was a first-time offender, and the minimum fine for first-time offenders is $7,500. While it may have been Polamalu's first fine of the season, he had been fined previously. Flacco had not.

Here are the two penalties:


Polamalu horse-collars Williams during Week 1.


Flacco horse-collars Hawthorne during Week 10.

The story here isn't that one player was fined more than another for the same offense, it's that the league appears to haphazardly assign punishments. We've said it countless times before, but here goes, once more: if the idea is to reduce personal-foul penalties, shouldn't the sanctions be transparent and crystal clear? Because otherwise, no one knows what's deemed legal and what isn't and you end up with situations like, say, this (and this).

Put another way: the league views Flacco's offense to be as egregious as what Browns guard Shawn Lauvao did to Brian Cushing last week. Lauvao was fined $7,500 for head-butting Cushing, which opened up a blood-gushing gash on the Texans linebacker's face.

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Posted on: November 18, 2011 8:45 am
Edited on: November 18, 2011 2:25 pm
 

Report: Ray Lewis' toe to keep him out Sunday

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

In a big blow to the Ravens defense, the Carroll County Times is reporting that linebacker Ray Lewis will miss Sunday’s game vs. Cincinnati with a toe injury.

Quoth the Ravens
But that’s not all. According to the paper, Lewis might miss more than Sunday’s game as he tries to heal. The last time Lewis didn’t start a contest? That was 57 games ago in 2007.

Lewis reportedly visited a South Florida specialist this week to get a second opinion on the toe he injured during the Seahawks game, and apparently, the news wasn’t good. Unless you’re a Bengals fan, I suppose.

Without Lewis in the middle of the defense, linebacker Jameel McClain, who normally plays on the inside, could shift to middle linebacker or the Ravens could start Dannell Ellerbe in Lewis’ place.

UPDATED (2:25 p.m. ET): The team has listed Lewis as questionable, and he most likely will be a gametime decision.



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Posted on: November 17, 2011 10:23 am
Edited on: November 17, 2011 1:06 pm
 

Ray Rice: '5 carries is not going to cut it'

Posted by Will Brinson



The situation involving the Ravens offense -- and Baltimore's inability to win games when running back Ray Rice doesn't get many carries -- is coming to a head, thanks to Ray Lewis complaining about Rice's touches.

But Rice himself has been quiet thus far, declining to speak after the loss to Seattle. Until now -- on Wednesday Rice pointed out, in a "diplomatic" fashion according to Aaron Wilson of the Carroll County Times, that he needs more carries.

"I'm never going to be the guy that talks about touches, but obviously we know five carries is not going to cut it," Rice said. "I know five carries is not going to do us any justice, but we found ourselves so deep in the situation that we had to climb our way out. We were looking for answers. Whether it was running or passing, we have to find our way out of a situation."

Quoth the Ravens

Rice also discussed why he didn't talk to the press following the Seahawks loss.

"As a professional, you have to sometimes gather your thoughts up," Rice said. "You have to look at a situation before you express yourself, bottled up with emotional thoughts. My reason for not speaking after the game was more frustration on how we lost the game, it had nothing to do with you guys."

Rice added that speaking after "an emotional loss" "leads to disaster," "trouble" and "people pointing fingers." This is 100 percent correct, just like Rice's point about needing more carries.

He's handling it the right way, which is the same way that Rice has handled his ongoing contract situation. (One has to wonder how those negotiations are progressing the week after Rice receives five or eight carries in a game, especially if it's a Ravens loss. "Contentious" sounds about right.)

Now it's just up to the coaching staff to handle things the right way, by giving Rice the ball more.

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Posted on: November 16, 2011 4:34 pm
 

Ray Lewis: Ray Rice needs more touches for Ravens

Posted by Will Brinson



Over the past few days, we've pointed out that the Ravens would be wise to get the ball in the hands of their best player more often. That player is Ray Rice. When the Ravens win, he gets an average of 18-plus carries. When they lose, it's about eight carries.

On Tuesday, John Harbaugh refuted the claim that there's a connection between Rice's carries and the losses, but everyone's not in agreement with him on that. Specifically, Ray Lewis, who, according to our Ravens Rapid Reporter Jason Butt, believes that Rice needs more touches if the Ravens want to win.

"That's our bell cow," Lewis said. "If that talent right there isn't touching 25-30 times then you have to question yourself, what are we actually doing balance-wise?"

This isn't the first time a Ravens defender has spoken out about Rice's touches -- after the loss to Jacksonville in Week 7, Terrell Suggs basically told CBSSports.com's Pete Prisco the exact same thing.

"I don't really know what the game plan was," Suggs said at the time. "When I have a Pro Bowl running back, and he's not getting his touches, I'm going to feel some kind of way about it. He wants the ball. And I think we should feed him. Ray Rice is a phenomenal player. You have to use your phenomenal players."

Over the next few days, everyone started pointing fingers everywhere, even though the obvious solution was, in almost everyone's opinion, to give Rice more touches.

And yet, three weeks later, he got less touches in another game against another mediocre team in another non-blowout. The Ravens have the talent to win the Super Bowl this year, but if they're not utilizing it to properly beat the teams they should beat, they might not even make the playoffs.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com