Raiders’ run defense faces another challenge in Ravens’ Rice

Getty Images File PhotoRaiders face the Baltimore Ravens today and their star Ray Rice.

Getty Images File PhotoRaiders face the Baltimore Ravens today and their star Ray Rice.

Ray Rice watched film of the Raiders’ game against Tampa Bay last week and nearly jumped out his chair in anticipation of facing a defense that yielded four touchdowns and 251 yards rushing to rookie Doug Martin.

“Obviously, you look at it and you start to get excited when you see it happening,” Rice said. “Anybody goes over 200 yards, you have to figure there is a problem there.”

Rice has topped the 100-yard mark only twice in eight games this season for the Baltimore Ravens (6-2), but all signs point to a banner day today for the two-time Pro Bowl running back. Rice needs only 1 yard rushing to reach 5,000 for his career, but by day’s end he will be disappointed if he’s anywhere below 5,100.

For one thing, Rice (5-foot-8, 212 pounds) is built similarly to Martin (5-9, 215). Secondly, Rice has far more experience than the kid out of Boise State.

“To see him get out in the open field and making guys miss was pretty exciting to see from a rookie running back,” Rice said.

Rice and the Ravens know the Raiders (3-5) spent hours this week trying to rectify the problem. If Oakland is to snap Baltimore’s 14-game home winning streak, priority No. 1 will be to stop Rice.

“That’s going to be the theme of the week,” Raiders coach Dennis Allen said.

Rice has been used sparingly this season, reaching 20 carries in only two games thus far, but the Raiders are fully anticipating a heavy dose of Rice today.

“I expect them to do that, definitely,” Oakland linebacker Philip Wheeler said.

Soon after the Raiders walked off the field following their 42-32 loss to the Buccaneers, Wheeler began thinking about making amends for the awful performance by the defense.

“I was kind of shocked that we let that happen,” he said. “Even after the game I was thinking, ‘We have another team with a similar running attack. We can redeem ourselves.’”

Oakland has never won in Baltimore, losing four games by a total of 49 points. The Raiders have that going against them, in addition to trying to get a grip on Rice.

“We’ve got another huge challenge this week because we have another outstanding back in Ray Rice,” Allen said. “He’s been in this league for a long time. We’ve got our work cut out for us, not only against Ray Rice, but against the whole Baltimore team.”

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