OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice complimented his offensive line for a job well done after his first 100-yard rushing game of the season. But he also took a jab (likely unintentionally) at his blockers up front.
"I kind of made a joke with the guys on the offensive line that I didn't know what to do with a hole that big," Rice said after Sunday's 23-20 overtime loss at the Chicago Bears.
My guess is no one on the offensive line was laughing after Rice said this. The offensive linemen have heard for 11 weeks about how bad their run blocking has been that they probably didn't need to be reminded of this after helping Rice to 131 yards rushing, his most in a regular-season game since December 2011.
"One of the things we did a better job of was with our combination blocks," coach John Harbaugh said. "We did a better job of [identifying] which linebacker we were working to. The angles through the double team up to the linebacker were better. We got to those guys a little better. I thought we got them running. We stopped penetration a little bit better up front. We had fewer situations where we had to navigate a defensive lineman in the backfield."
The Ravens' challenge will be tougher Sunday. Baltimore goes from playing against the second-worst run defense to the top run defense in the NFL.
The Jets have allowed a league-low 73.2 yards rushing per game. No running back has gained more than 72 yards rushing against New York this season, and no one has produced more than 70 over the past seven games.
"All of my success today really attributes to the offensive line getting a head on the hat," Rice said. "I did what I needed to do when it came to dealing with the safeties. I got my pads lower. That's something I look forward to keep doing. It's just something that we've been working on. It looked like that in practice and we're going to try and do that."