Harbaugh 'can't explain' Rice's absence

December, 31, 2013
12/31/13
12:45
PM ET
OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The most bizarre moment of John Harbaugh's end-of-the-season press conference occurred in the final minute when the Baltimore Ravens coach was asked about running back Ray Rice's absence in the first half of the regular-season finale in Cincinnati.

Rice
Rice
"I really can't explain that adequately, in all honesty," Harbaugh said. "That was something that happened during the game that, when I looked over and saw it, I put him back in the game. I don't have that answer for you right now. He should've been out there."

This is strange for a couple of reasons. Why doesn't Harbaugh have an answer for a major situation in a game two days ago? And why did Harbaugh give a completely different answer to the same question Sunday?

In a game that the Ravens needed to win to reach the playoffs, Rice played only two series in the first half, the first one and last one. The Ravens' top back -- the one who was given a $35 million contract a year ago -- received one carry before halftime. He had been questionable with a thigh injury, but he played most of the second half and scored a two-point conversion.

Asked about Rice sitting out most of the first half, Harbaugh said immediately after the game: “That was a decision with really the offensive coaches. When we were backed up, we didn’t want to put him in those backed-up situations. We didn’t feel the need to do that.”

Even Rice echoed the same sentiment after the game, saying, "I was ready to go. There was a lot of situational football."

Two days later, Harbaugh said he doesn't have answer. Did Rice tick off someone on the sideline? Were the Ravens concerned about Rice's pass blocking? No one knows, or at least, they're not saying.

I guess you can just add that to the many questions facing the Ravens' offense this offseason.

Jamison Hensley

ESPN Ravens reporter

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