AFC Championship Game, Patriots Vs. Ravens: Ray Rice Is Small, But Tough

On the opening play of a 2009 AFC Wild Card Playoffs game between the Baltimore Ravens and New England Patriots, Ravens running back Ray Rice stunned the Patriots with an 83-yard touchdown run right up the middle of the defense.

Rice's run set the tone for the Ravens' 33-14 win that day and earned the respect of the Patriots' defense, Michael Vega of The Boston Globe reports.

"To be that small, you wouldn't expect him to be that tough of a runner, " said Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork," but I'll tell you what, he's probably one of the toughest guys to bring down in this league because he always keeps those wheels spinning. He always comes up with big plays, too, whether it's in the pass game or the running game."

In three career games against New England, including the one post-season game, Rice has 61 carries for 350 yards and two touchdowns with 13 receptions for 87 yards.

For updates and analysis on these teams leading up to the 2012 AFC Championship, visit Ravens blog Baltimore Beat Down, Patriots blog Pats Pulpit and SB Nation Boston. Don't forget to check out SB Nation's NFL hub for all your playoff news.

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