Bingo!! Good call, and I see other's agree.
Ray Rice is fine. You obviously play stiffer competition in the playoffs. They try to take away what you do best, which has historically been run for the Ravens and especially since Ry Rice has been here, the offense has run through him. His confidence is fine, his attitude is great. By all accounts he will be the team leader with the departure of Lewis. I think people are reading way too much into things.
I had been clamoring for a formation with Pierce in the backfield and Ray out wide, and they finally did that in the Super Bowl. Hope to see more of that next year.
Rice put the ball on the ground at the worst possible time in the SB........giving SF that short field kept the momentum shift big time, and it was not a really hard hit either.
I'm not buying it. Teams focus on Rice in the regular season. The idea that they focus on him in the playoffs is nothing new. They do it all year. San Fransisco probably had the toughest front seven that he faced in the playoffs. Indianapolis' defense was not very good. Denver's defense was mainly pass rush. New England's defense was not very good. San Fransisco's secondary was suspect, but their front seven was good.
As another poster declared, in my opinion, Rice just had a bad postseason by his standards.
I think that he was playing tight. The fumbles definitely got to him and it would not surprise me if the emergence of Benard Pierce played a role in that as well. Remember, Ray Rice has been in Pierce's position. He hasn't been in McGahee's position.
However, I think we will see his numbers improve next year. Assuming Flacco and Caldwell have continued success in the passing game, I think Rice will find defenses softer against the run. With the struggles the Ravens' passing game had this past regular season, I think a lot of DCs approach to stopping the Ravens was to stop Ray Rice first. After Flacco's playoff run, I think they're gonna fear the passing game a bit more now.
Reviewing the tape, Ray Rice looked very uncomfortable and tentative. He missed the hole more often than not and struggled to follow Leach's lead blocks. He looked like a completely different player in the playoffs most noticeably in his ball handling. He was carrying the ball out away from his body all the time, usually he holds the ball high and tight to his body (correctly). I think he was forcing it, not having success, and then forcing it and overthinking it even harder out of frustration. He still does not look comfortable in the zone-blocking scheme. He is a much better fit for a power/man blocking scheme.
Rice is not a dominant back who is going to run through 8 and 9 man fronts at will. He never has been and never will be. When teams sell out to take him away they will probably succeed at least to some extent, but that means other guys should be having a ton of success, and that didn't happen enough under Cam Cameron. I think under Caldwell we will be better at taking advantage of teams selling out to take Rice away which will make them more reluctant to do so.
I would also prefer to see Ray Rice stick to around 20-25 combined touches a game and no more (15-20 carries and 5 catches or so, with Pierce chipping in another 10-15 carries or so.) He had 30 rushes, no catches, vs. Denver and I think that wore him down, although obviously that was a factor of Pierce getting hurt.
I think we blew the call on 2nd down from the 1 early in the 4th quarter when we went to Rice for the second play in a row. I think the team probably wanted to have Rice score a TD in the Super Bowl and help him recover from the fumble, but running him right into the pile wasn't the best call for him or for the team's chances to win the game. Pounding it in would be a better task for Pierce or even Leach, and probably better still would've been a pass to Pitta or Boldin from there.
I think that this pales in comparison to the FACT that the OP made a cuss out of ascii art.
IF GIVEN THE CHANCE, RAY RICE WILL RUN ALL OVER YOU.
SF didn't give him the chance either, stacked box or no stacked box. They just needed
Willis and Bowman, two of the best tacklers in NFL and that D was ranked 4th vs the
run to begin with. They got the best of Rice but that opened up Boldin's heroics on the
outside. You see, Willis and Bowman are LBs focusing on Rice.
The whole excuse that teams key on Rice is bologna. Teams key on the run because the Ravens run out of a two back set where one guy is only really good for blocking. They can cover Boldin on the outside with a corner. They bracket T. Smith with a safety which leaves 7 or 8 guys in the box. Pierce had more success and I am guessing if you watched tape and charted his runs that majority of them were out of a single back formation. Ray Rice is not great runner. He is a great all around running back. Teams absolutely accounted for him in the passing game which opened things up for Boldin and Pitta in the passing game. Rice does not have the best vision running the ball. He is not a guy that is going to get 3-4 yards against defenses set up to stop the run. He will get a lot of 1 to 2 yard pick ups and break a long one. Guys like AP and Foster will get 3-4 yards just about every carry.
Rice has always been overrated as a runner. He was the only game in town the last few years and got a ton of carries and that allowed him to get to 1200 yards. His value has been as dual threat. I think Rice's stats will go down next year. I think he will be more productive but will get less touches than he has in the past. Pierce will be able to carry a bigger load that will offset. The offense is going to be built around Joe and I am expecting less two back sets and more easy passes on early downs to get the passing game going. It won't be run run throw deep ball to T smith anymore.
Pierce's vision and ability to find holes is outstanding. I hope we see more formations where Rice and Pierce are on the field at the same time.
I think Rice was too emotional going into the playoff games because of Lewis' retirement. Rice was thinking way too hard not to mess it up for Lewis . Everyone knew a loss would be the end of Lewis' career and I think that got to Rice more than others being how close he is with Lewis. Rice will be fine next season. Also, the game plan changed more this past season to fit into Flacco's hands than the previous years where the main goal was to get Rice the ball. Rice carried the offense until Flacco was ready(which many believe was sooner than this past season). With Flacco getting more control, Rice lost the carrying weight.
Speaking of emotional, niners were the ones that were emotional. There were even reports here that K sounded
nervous in interviews. Then they spot us 28 points thru tons of mistakes and penalties.
They came back but choked so bad in the first half they couldn't pass us and then Ravens padded the score in the
4th qtr. Ravens even had 2 extra points to throw away on the safety. Then K finally choked under pressure on
the goal line stand.
Tom Matte fumbled at the top of the 2d half in SB 3 that led to a score. Shit happens.
For those of you will Sirius/XM, RR is on NFL Radio right now.