OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — Three quarterbacks have more yards rushing this season than Ray Rice, which goes a long way toward explaining why the Baltimore Ravens own the league's 27th-ranked running game and have a disappointing .500 record.
Rice has 197 yards on the ground and is averaging a mere 2.8 yards per attempt. Of his 71 carries, 40 have gone for two yards or fewer and 20 have been for negative or no yardage.
Rice is 33rd on the league's rushing list, behind quarterbacks Michael Vick, Terrell Pryor and Russell Wilson and only seven yards better than Kansas City signal-caller Alex Smith.
A portion of the blame needs to be directed at a struggling offensive line that has not quite overcome the loss of retired center Matt Birk. Rice, however, just doesn't appear to be zipping through the line in the manner that earned him three trips to the Pro Bowl.
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco suggested Wednesday that Rice may still be feeling the effects of a hip flexor strain that sidelined him in Week 3.
"He was banged up for a couple of weeks, and this is his first couple weeks back," Flacco said. "Anytime you get a little banged up and aren't 100 percent, you need some time before you can get full explosion."
But Rice insisted his injury is not an issue.
Days after he ran for a season-high 74 yards on 24 carries in a 26-23 win over Miami on Oct. 6, Rice said, "I had one injury. I'm all right. I've been pretty fresh. I'm getting there."
Last Sunday, however, he ran for only 34 yards on 14 attempts and twice was stuffed from inside the Green Bay 4-yard line in a 19-17 defeat.
"We would love to run the ball better," Rice said. "It's not something that you plan on, going out there and messing up. The run game has to get better. We'll just keep sawing at it."
Baltimore (3-3) faces AFC North rival Pittsburgh (1-4) on Sunday, and the Ravens sure could use their running game in a physical duel between two teams that rarely rely on finesse.
"Obviously, we want to run the ball as much as we can," guard Marshal Yanda said. "We want to get after them. Hopefully we get to, but you never know. We'd like to. We want to."
The defending Super Bowl sure could use the Rice of a year ago, when the 5-foot-8 dynamo ran for 1,143 yards — an average of 4.4 yards per carry — and caught 61 passes for 478 yards. This year, Rice has only 20 catches, none for longer than 11 yards.