Still, it never should have gotten to the point where calls were perceived as a potential difference in the game. The Ravens had control of the game with a 10-point lead and the ball early in the third quarter. However, Flacco threw an interception on the first possession of the second half and Vick turned it into a 23-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin.
The Ravens then went three-and-out on their next three drives as Rice, who rushed seven times for 78 yards in the first half, curiously turned into a decoy. After his 16-yard run at the 2:11 mark of the second quarter, Rice didn’t take another handoff from Flacco until the 5:30 mark of the third quarter. The Ravens ran 12 offensive plays between the carries and gained 29 total yards, and threw an interception.
“We ran the plays that were called. I think we left a lot of plays on the field. They made more plays when they had to and we didn't,” said Rice who finished with 16 carries for 99 yards and six catches for 53 yards . “I don't feel like [the running game] was abandoned. I feel like we had to do what we had to do. This new tempo offense, I'm never going to be the guy. My thing is always touches. As long as they find ways to get me the ball, that would be great. We were running the ball really well today.”
The Ravens rushed for 111 total yards and averaged 5.3 yards per carry. However, their undoing was they went 4-for-14 on third down and 0-for-2 on fourth down.
“We just have to find a way to stay on the field on third down,” said fullback Vonta Leach who scored on a 5-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, his first as a Raven. “For whatever reason, we weren’t good on third downs.”
The Ravens had six opportunities of third or fourth down and 2 yards or less that could have prolonged the drive. Each time, they passed and did not pick up the first down.
That, more than anything, may have been the difference in preparing for the AFC championship game rematch next Sunday against the New England Patriots coming off a brutal loss rather than an uplifting win.
“We’ll probably go back and look and see if there’s some things we could have done there just because they were doing a good job in their coverage and things like that,” Flacco said. “The bottom lime is we have to execute and we weren’t able to.”