An annual rite of fall, Ravens fans a few weeks ago were ready to storm the Cam Cameron household with sharp pitchforks and smoking torches after running back Ray Rice, one of the league's best at his position, got just nine carries in a 43-13 loss to the Houston Texans. The Ravens got away from Rice, and the fans had every right to be upset with the coaching staff. Even head coach John Harbaugh admitted he wished the Ravens had been more patient with the run. They have showed plenty of patience since then, sticking with Rice and the running game even though they could probably get more traction in a sandpit than they have over the past month and a half. Rice is getting his fair share of carries -- 58 the past three weeks -- but he isn't getting far as he and the running game is officially in a major funk. Rice rushed for 40 yards on 20 carries -- a season-low two yards per carry -- in Sunday night's 13-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Overall, the Ravens rushed for just 47 yards on 23 carries, though Cameron should get a little credit for not giving up on the run game. Still, their struggles are a troubling trend, especially because they coincide with those of quarterback Joe Flacco, who had yet another uneven game away from M&T Bank Stadium. Rice has carried the ball 83 times the past five games for 278 yards -- an average of 3.3 yards per carry. He hasn't cracked 100 yards since the Week 5 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, and he has rushed for 42 yards or fewer in three of his past five games. Against the Steelers, Rice did produce with five catches for 53 yards, but his longest gain rushing the ball was just 8 yards. Its not all on Rice, who couldn't find much running room Sunday and who couldn't slip away from the aggressive Steelers when he tried to cut back across the grain. It's a plus that All-Pro fullback Vonta Leach is seeing his snaps increase. But the Ravens offensive line -- which had a new starter at left guard in Jah Reid -- has to block better for him. For the Ravens to be at their best in cold December, January and hopefully February, they must get Rice, their best player and offensive spark plug, back in a groove. Until then, you cant blame for Cameron losing patience, though he would be wise to keep Rice involved.
Gene Sweeney Jr. / Baltimore Sun
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