Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice had gone 21 straight games without losing a fumble, an impressive streak of 445 touches. So, Rice was taken aback when he was asked about his two fumbles in Sunday's wild-card win over the Colts.
“I didn’t fumble all year. So I don’t really get that question,” Rice said after the game. “It’s just me being smart in the situation. You look at how many touches I had already. My fumble ratio is way down. Once again, I’m going to address it -- I’m not a fumbler. You guys know that, and that’ll be the last time I address me fumbling. It won’t happen again.”
To be specific, Rice isn't a fumbler in the regular season. But he is one in the postseason. It's a strange trend for the three-time Pro Bowl running back.
In the regular season, Rice has fumbled seven times (losing six) in 1,527 touches. That's an average of one fumble every 218 touches. In the playoffs, he has fumbled five times (losing four) in 152 touches. That's one fumble every 30 touches. Rice has lost a fumble in three of the past four postseasons.
After Rice's second fumble Sunday, which came on the second play of the fourth quarter, he only got two more carries the rest of the game. Backup Bernard Pierce, who finished with 103 yards rushing, received six carries in the fourth quarter.
Asked about his decision to give Pierce more playing time down the stretch, coach John Harbaugh said, “It really wasn’t any decision other than the fact that we think we have two good guys that can play. We like both of those guys in that situation. Bernard has earned the right to be in on those kind of situations. I like both of our backs a lot.”
Luckily for Rice, taking the ball away isn't a strength of the Denver defense. The Broncos forced eight fumbles this season, which is tied for the fifth-fewest in the AFC.