Ravens vs. Jaguars: Running backs in the spotlight

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 25: Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens runs past Bradley Fletcher #32 of the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 25, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

There are only 5 NFL teams that the Jaguars have played more times than the Ravens, however it's been almost three years since the two teams last faced each other. In the final game of a disastrous 2008 season for the Jaguars, the Ravens improved to 11-5 with a 27-7 victory in Baltimore that dropped the Jaguars record to 5-11.

The game was Fred Taylor's last as a member of the Jaguars, but he didn't play due to injury and Maurice Jones-Drew had his fourth career start. For the Ravens, running back Ray Rice was a 2nd round rookie from Rutgers (alliteration is fun), and the primary backup for Willis McGahee. Rice started four games for Baltimore that season, but didn't play in the week 17 game against the Jaguars due to an injury.

The following season both Rice and Jones-Drew were named the starting running backs of their respective teams and both have excelled in their roles. Both were named to the Pro Bowl following their 2009 seasons and Jones-Drew followed it up with another Pro Bowl season in 2010, while Rice just missed the cut.
Most Rushing Yards since 2009
Running Back
2009 2010 2011 Total
Chris Johnson
2006 1364 250 3620
Maurice Jones-Drew
1391 1324 572 3287
Adrian Peterson
1383 1298 537 3218
Ray Rice
1339 1220 398 2957
Steven Jackson
1416 1241 220 2877

 

Rice and Jones-Drew have been lumped together by many through their careers because both have found great success despite being listed at 5'8 and 5'7, respectively. Perhaps, justly so as they have had similar production and impacts on their respective offenses.

While Jones-Drew has taken a larger amount of carries in the Jacksonville offense and has scored 22 rushing touchdowns in the last three years compared to Rice's 14; Rice has made up for that by contributing as a pass catcher in the Baltimore offense. Since 2009, Jones-Drew has 96 receptions for 766 yards and three touchdowns, while Rice has 162 receptions for 1560 yards and four touchdowns.

Monday night will be the first time the two Pro Bowl running backs have faced each other in their careers. If either running back is able to find significant success, it will go a long way towards finding the offensive success necessary to win.

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