Ravens vs. Patriots: Ray Rice believes success comes from execution on third downs

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens leading rusher Ray Rice believes that one of the reasons the team has made it to the AFC Championship game is because of their execution on third down.

As the Baltimore Ravens prepare for their game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough for the right to go to Super Bowl XLVII, running back Ray Rice said that one of the reasons that the Ravens have made it to this point for the second season in a row has a lot to do with the players' decision to execute at a high level.

"Coaches call the plays, but we as players decided that we have to execute at a high level," Rice said in Wednesday's press conference. "That's our responsibility. One thing that Coach Caldwell has done for us is he lets us go out there and we have a game plan and regardless of the situation, we've been sticking to it. Joe can tell you, that when we go in there with a plan, we just go out there and try to execute at a high level. One thing you see with the Ravens right now is we're going out there and executing on third downs. When you execute on third downs you can keep drives going. We've had a lot more snaps in the last couple of weeks because of our execution. That's something we've been saying all year, a team that executes on third down is a team that does well in games. That's been us the last couple weeks."

Jim Caldwell was named the Ravens offensive coordinator in December when head coach John Harbaugh decided to fire Cam Cameron. During the regular season, when Cameron was the offensive coordinator, the Ravens converted 80 of 217 third down attempts for a 37 percent conversion rate. However, in the teams' two playoff games, the Ravens, who have the second-rated offense in yards per game behind the 49ers, they have converted 11 of 27 attempts, improving their percentage to 41 percent.

That slight improvement was one of the reasons that the Ravens have not only been able to get past the Colts, but were able to upset the Broncos in Denver for the right to face the Patriots again in the AFC Championship game.

Rice is the NFL's second-leading rusher so far in the postseason, after the Texans' Arian Foster, with 199 rushing yards and 4.4 yards per carry. Caldwell is likely planning on using Rice in heavy doses in Foxborough to do his best to keep Tom Brady and the powerful Patriots offense on the sideline as much as possible.

The Ravens are set to take on the Patriots in Gillette Stadium at 6:30 p.m. EST on Sunday. The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS.

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