The Ravens lost 34-17 to the Bengals on Sunday, ending their hopes of making it to the playoffs.
Running back Ray Rice spent most of the first half of that loss as an observer, playing only on the first and last series of the half before playing a larger role in the second half of the game. Rice was questionable on the Friday injury report because of a thigh injury, but coach John Harbaugh and Rice said after the game that he was for situational reasons.
On Tuesday, though, Harbaugh said he didn’t have an answer about why Rice was out when the topic came up during his season-ending press conference.
“I really can’t explain that adequately, in all honesty,” Harbaugh said, via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. “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.”
Rice’s role is one of many things that the Ravens will have to figure out during the offseason. He dropped to 3.1 yards per carry this season, some of which can certainly be explained by offensive line struggles. Harbaugh said he has “complete confidence and belief” in his coaches, including run game coordinator Juan Castillo, without ruling out changes in the staff.
Rice also had a hip injury early in the season, which clearly sapped him of some burst that never really reappeared as the season unfolded. Rice has averaged nearly 300 touches a year in his first six seasons, so staying healthy isn’t something Baltimore can take for granted moving forward. Bernard Pierce got more work this year as Rice’s No. 2, but his results were also down from last season which leaves several potential routes for the Ravens to take as they try to improve for next season.