OWINGS MILLS — Ray Rice was unaccustomed to what he experienced against the Green Bay Packers’ top-ranked defense.
The Baltimore Ravens’ versatile running back got shut down during a 27-14 loss at Lambeau Field, generating a season-low 71 yards from scrimmage.
The Packers accounted for Rice on virtually every snap, shadowing him with a spy. They were extremely aware of quarterback Joe Flacco’s tendency to go to Rice as a checkdown option.
“They made sure they did a good job of following him out on screens and making sure that they had a guy spying him so that he couldn’t get any momentum going,” Flacco said. “You have to credit those guys.”
Rice was limited to 54 rushing yards on 14 carries and caught three passes for 17 yards despite being targeted six times.
Defensive coordinator Dom Capers’ game plan was astute as it took away one of the Ravens’ top weapons.
Rice entered the game averaging 127.5 all-purpose yards per contest to rank second in the NFL behind Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson.
“It would be wise to try to do that,” Rice said of the defensive gambit.
Once the Ravens fell behind by a 17-0 deficit, there weren’t many opportunities for running plays.
Rice dropped to third in the NFL in average yards per game, down to 122.8 yards.
Rice also lost a fumble for the first time in his two-year NFL career.
“It was my fault, I was going down and I might have knocked the ball out on the fumble,” he said. “I’m not known as a fumbler. I protect the ball well. It’s something I’ll get corrected.”
INJURY UPDATE: The Ravens weren’t expecting free safety Ed Reed to be sidelined with hip and ankle injuries, learning shortly before kickoff that the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year wouldn’t be able to play.
Reed’s hip didn’t loosen up properly during warmup drills.
His deactivation broke a streak of 64 consecutive games.
“Obviously when he said he couldn’t go, it was disappointing,” coach John Harbaugh said. “I felt like he would be able to go. That was the hope all week. He didn’t practice. It just wasn’t there for him.”
Meanwhile, the Ravens are also dealing with new injuries to wide receiver Mark Clayton (hamstring), kicker Billy Cundiff (mild concussion), offensive tackle Jared Gaither (foot), nose guard Kelly Gregg (shoulder strain) and offensive lineman David Hale (concussion).
Clayton, Hale, Gaither and Gregg didn’t return to the game after getting hurt.
“It was hurting,” Clayton said. “I had a twisted hamstring. I didn’t come back after that play. No, I don’t think I’ll need an MRI.”
Gregg’s shoulder slightly popped out of joint, but it’s not regarded as serious.
“That’s the nature of this league,” Harbaugh said. “That stuff adds up on you a little bit, but that’s the way it works in football and the NFL.”
APOLOGY: Rice was extremely critical of Lambeau Field and the state of Wisconsin after losing to the Packers.
"To be honest with you, it was just Lambeau Field," he said. "I didn’t see anything special. They put us in the middle of nowhere and it’s not a real exciting place. Everything about this place is terrible, to be honest with you."
The Ravens stayed in a hotel in Appleton, a small town that doesn’t feature a lot of nightlife.
One day later, Rice apologized on his Twitter account.
“As a man I would like to apologize the fans of Green Bay,” he wrote. “You can’t judge a book by its cover and for me to talk about your city was wrong.”
QUICK HITS: Harbaugh defended offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s play-calling and said he has no intentions of taking over the calls. “Cam’s the play-caller,” Harbaugh said during his weekly WBAL radio program. “I have all the faith and confidence in Cam.” Harbaugh acknowledged that Flacco should have thrown the ball away on a flea-flicker interception he threw in the first quarter. Harbaugh also indicated that running back Willis McGahee was supposed to run north-south on the red-zone play where he was tackled by cornerback Charles Woodson, but chose to bounce outside. … Harbaugh also revealed that Billy Cundiff played the entire game with a concussion after getting kneed in the head by fullback Le’Ron McClain. It affected his kickoffs and the Ravens were hesitant to have him try to kick field goals. … The Ravens need to improve their pass rush, Harbaugh said, and are contemplating using more young players such as Paul Kruger and Antwan Barnes. … The Ravens had no answers for Packers athletic tight end Jermichael Finley. Finley caught seven passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns. “It’s tough to cover a tight end,” Harbaugh said. “Sometimes, they will get you into a base package and have a guy out there who is probably more of a receiver than he is a tight end. They took advantage of that.” … Starting in place of Reed, Tom Zbikowski intercepted a pass and nearly intercepted another errant throw. He also allowed two touchdown passes. “I thought Zibby came in and did a nice job,” Harbaugh said.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.