Disturbing new video evidence that surfaced earlier this week regarding Ray Rice’s domestic violence incident left the Baltimore Ravens little choice but to terminate the embattled running back’s contract immediately.
And though such an offensive finding further complicates an issue that has drawn criticism toward the franchise and the NFL as a whole, the short-term impact on the field doesn’t change for the Ravens, who already were prepared to play without Rice in Thursday night’s home matchup with the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
Rice was banned two games by commissioner Roger Goodell after a video showed Rice dragging his unconscious then-fiancee from a casino elevator after a domestic spat that drew charges from law enforcement, though they eventually were dropped.
But after a more complete video surfaced Monday that showed Rice punching his now-wife before pulling her out of the elevator, the Ravens released Rice. Goodell, who previously admitted the initial suspension was too lenient, followed by suspending Rice indefinitely.
”(The video) changed things, of course,” said coach John Harbaugh, who had expressed his support for Rice since the initial reports of the incident were publicized. “It made things a little bit different.”
Though the Rice situation could be a distraction, nothing changes personnel-wise in regards to this contest. The Ravens still must figure out the direction of their running game after totaling just 23 yards on nine carries in the first half and falling behind 15-0 before the break Sunday against Cincinnati.
Bernard Pierce started but fumbled in the second quarter and didn’t play again. Justin Forsett took over and ran 11 times for 70 yards and a touchdown, but the Ravens gave up a late touchdown pass after briefly taking the lead and lost 23-16.
”The game is done. It’s shaken off. On to next week,” Pierce said.
Things may not go much better against the Steelers if Baltimore can’t get its offense going. Joe Flacco went 35 of 62 for 345 yards and an interception, with 80 of those yards coming on a TD to Steve Smith in the fourth quarter.
Though Flacco was shaky, his receivers dropped an NFL-high six passes in Week 1.