Ray Rice’s Career Was Over Before Domestic Abuse Scandal
The 2011 season was by far and away the best of Ray Rice's career. He had already established himself as one of the best running backs in the NFL and was taking the league by storm with his unique combination of speed, strength, and shiftiness.
He ran 291 times for a whopping 1,364 yards (4.7 yards per carry) and 12 touchdowns. He added 76 receptions for 704 yards and three more scores. Rice was a first round draft pick in fantasy leagues around the world and was in the debate for the top pick. He was the best player on the Baltimore Ravens and stole most of the credit for the team's success from young Delaware quarterback Joe Flacco.
And then it all came toppling down very quickly, and I'm not referring to the domestic abuse scandal that rocked the running back's career. No, no, Rice's career was over before Roger Goodell and the media and a punch thrown in an elevator essentially ended it for him.
In 2013, Rice averaged 3.1 yards per carry. For those of you who are good enough at math, that means he wouldn't pick up a first down on three straight runs. That's generally an indicator that a running back has slowed down to the point that he is no longer effective. The sample size wasn't small either. He carried the ball 214 times for 660 yards and just four scores on the ground.
The Ravens knew he was done, too. They were straying from the run game and looking more to Flacco and a solid receiving corps to generate yards on offense. In the passing game, Rice dropped from 104 targets in 2011 to just 73 in 2013. His yardage numbers were more than cut in half as a pass-catcher and he didn't catch a touchdown pass.
Rice accounted for 15 touchdowns in 2011 for a total of 90 points. In 2013, he made his way into the end zone just four times. To be clear, Rice wasn't being surpassed by a younger back that was stealing touches and snaps away. He just quite simply wasn't worth using anymore.
Look around the league for teams in need of a running back. The Cardinals are last in the league in rushing yards per attempt. Rice wouldn't play there. Detroit is second worst and Rice wouldn't play there. He wouldn't see the field in San Diego or for the Giants or for the Browns or the Raiders or any other team in need of a running back.
So, sure, Ray Rice might have stopped his career in its tracks by punching his wife in the face on camera. But it was long over already.
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