Many obstacles stand in Rice's path to a comeback

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Many obstacles stand in Rice's path to a comeback
Janay Rice, back left, looks on as her husband, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, speaks during an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Ray Rice spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for assaulting his fiance, now his wife, at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2013, file photo, Jeffery Miller, NFL vice president of security, addresses the media at a news conference for Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. The video of Ray Rice punching his fiancee inside a casino elevator was sent to NFL headquarters to the attention of Miller in April, a law enforcement official says. The NFL has repeatedly said no one with the league saw the violent images until TMZ Sports released the video earlier this month. Miller said Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014, through an NFL spokesman that he never received the video. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)
OWINGS MILLS, MD - MAY 23: Running back Ray Rice of the Baltimore Ravens pauses while addressing a news conference with his wife Janay at the Ravens training center on May 23, 2014 in Owings Mills, Maryland. Rice spoke publicly for the first time since facing felony assault charges stemming from a February incident involving Janay at an Atlantic City casino. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2014, file photo, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice sits on the sideline in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Baltimore. The Ravens have cut Ray Rice. Hours after the release of a video that appears to show Rice striking his then-fiancee in February, the team terminated his contract Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Nick Wass, File)
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, right, speaks alongside his wife Janay during an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Ray Rice spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for assaulting his fiance, now his wife, at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
FILE - In this July 31, 2014, file photo, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, right, walks off the field with Justin Forsett before addressing the media at a news conference in Owings Mills, Md. The Ravens have cut Ray Rice. Hours after the release of a video that appears to show Rice striking his then-fiancee in February, the team terminated his contract Monday, Sept. 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Gail Burton, File)
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, right, speaks alongside his wife Janay during an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Ray Rice spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for assaulting his fiance, now his wife, at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Janay Rice listens as her husband, Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, not pictured, speaks during an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Ray Rice spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for assaulting his fiance, now his wife, at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Ravens running back Ray Rice and his wife Janay made statements to the news media May 5, 2014, at the Under Armour Performance Center in Owings Mills, Md, regarding his assault charge for knocking her unconscious in a New Jersey casino. On Monday, Sept. 9, 2014, Rice was let go from the Baltimore Ravens after a video surfaced from TMZ showing the incident. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/MCT via Getty Images)
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice answers question during a news conference after NFL football training camp, Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Owings Mills, Md.(AP Photo/Gail Burton)
ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 16: Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens sits on the bench against the Dallas Cowboys in the first half of their preseason game at AT&T Stadium on August 16, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
ARLINGTON, TX - AUGUST 16: Ray Rice #27 of the Baltimore Ravens smiles during warm ups before their game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on August 16, 2014 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
OWINGS MILLS, MD - MAY 23: Baltimore Ravens assistant director of public relations Patrick M. Gleason holds the door as running back Ray Rice enter a news conference followed by his wife Janay Rice and Ravens team President Dick Cass at the Ravens training center on May 23, 2014 in Owings Mills, Maryland. Rice spoke publicly for the first time since facing felony assault charges stemming from a February incident involving Janay at an Atlantic City casino. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice enters an NFL football news conference with his wife Janay, back right,, Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Rice spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for assaulting his fiance, now his wife, at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Baltimore Ravens football player and former Rutgers University standout, Ray Rice holds hands with his wife Janay Palmer as they arrive at Atlantic County Criminal Courthouse in Mays Landing, N.J., Thursday, May 1, 2014. After Rice and Janay Palmer got into a physical altercation on Feb. 15 at an Atlantic City casino, both were charged with simple assault-domestic violence. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, left, leaves a NFL football news conference with his wife Janay, Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Ray Rice spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for assaulting his fiance, now his wife, at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice, left, looks back as he hugs his father-in-law Joe Palmer after an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Rice spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for assaulting his fiance, now his wife, at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice pauses as he speaks during an NFL football news conference, Friday, May 23, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. Rice and his wife Janay spoke to the media for the first time since his arrest for assaulting his then-fiance at a casino in Atlantic City, N.J. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Baltimore Ravens football player and former Rutgers University standout, Ray Rice holds hands with his wife Janay Palmer as they arrive at Atlantic County Criminal Courthouse in Mays Landing, N.J., Thursday, May 1, 2014. After Rice and Janay Palmer got into a physical altercation on Feb. 15 at an Atlantic City casino, both were charged with simple assault-domestic violence. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Baltimore Ravens football player Ray Rice, second from left, and his attorney Michael Diamondstein stand during Rice's arraignment at the Atlantic County Courthouse Thursday, May 1, 2014, in Mays Landing, N.J. Rice's wife Janay Palmer is seated at right. After Rice and Palmer got into a physical altercation on Feb. 15 at an Atlantic City casino, both were charged with simple assault-domestic violence. (AP Photo/The Philadelphia Inquirer, Tom Gralish, Pool)
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice removes his jersey after a training camp practice, Thursday, July 24, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. (AP Photo)
Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice walks off the field after a training camp practice, Thursday, July 24, 2014, at the team's practice facility in Owings Mills, Md. (AP Photo)
SANTA CLARA, CA - JULY 17: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sits in the crowd during the the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for Levi Stadium on July 17, 2014 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
Maine Governor Paul LePage in his office at the State House in Augusta. LePage, who was beaten by his father when he was young and has made domestic abuse prevention and awareness a priority of his administration, wrote a scathing letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about the controversial two-game suspension levied on Ray Rice after a domestic incident involving his wife at a N.J. hotel.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks at a press conference at the NFL's spring meeting, Tuesday, May 20, 2014, in Atlanta. Goodell has been criticized for suspending Ravens running back Ray Rice for two games following a domestic incident at a N.J. hotel.
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By DAVID GINSBURG

BALTIMORE (AP) - If Bernard Pierce keeps running as impressively as he did against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he soon might carve out his own identity.

For now, the third-year running back carries the label of the man who replaced Ray Rice.

Starting for a second straight game, Pierce ran for 96 yards on 22 carries to help the Baltimore Ravens beat the Steelers 26-6.

The job is Pierce's to lose. Rice was originally serving a two-game suspension for domestic violence, but the Ravens released him Monday after a video surfaced showing him hitting his then-fiancee in an elevator last February.

Averaging 4.4 yards per carry, Pierce redeemed himself for a poor showing in the opener against Cincinnati, when he gained just 14 yards on nine carries and was pulled after losing a fumble.

"Bernard bounced back. That shows you what he's made of, that shows you his mettle a little bit," coach John Harbaugh said.

Said Pierce: "What a difference from last week. I knew I was going to get called on, and I was really focused to correct the mistakes I made from last week."

Before this season, Pierce had only one NFL start over two years since being picked third in the NFL draft out of Temple. That doesn't mean his career was not without its highlights: He ran for 123 yards against the Giants in December of his rookie season and had 103 yards in a playoff game against Indianapolis.

Last year, Pierce was slowed by injury but still had 436 yards rushing and 20 catches for 104 yards.

Those numbers should improve significantly this year, now that he's No. 1.

Pierce provided balance to an attack that against Cincinnati relied far too heavily on the pass. Joe Flacco threw 62 times in a 23-16 defeat.

In this one, the Ravens ran 36 times and Flacco threw 29 passes. In the fourth quarter alone, Pierce gained 54 yards on eight attempts.

"As the game went on and we got that lead, it allowed us to continue to run the ball," Flacco said. "That's really when your yardage goes up. When your carries can go up, when you can get the lead late in the game, you really start to pound them. That's what we were able to do."

Harbaugh said of Pierce: "He finished off in the fourth quarter pretty good."

Pierce would rather have beat out Rice on the field than take his job under these circumstances, so this situation is far from ideal.

"He's a friend first before a player," Pierce said. "I'm not saying it's wrong, I'm not saying it's right, but everybody makes mistakes. Eventually everything will brush over."

As a reward for playing on a short work-week, the Ravens are off until Monday. Their next game is at Cleveland on Sept. 21.

Goodell Calls on Ex-FBI Head to Investigate Ray Rice Video
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