Each Wednesday, blogger Matt Vensel will highlight five statistics that really mean something for the Ravens.
133 -- the number of Peyton Manning’s 204 passing yards on Sunday that came after play-action fakes.
For the first three quarters of Sunday's 34-17 loss, the Denver Broncos showed the Ravens what a balanced offense should look like. Knowshon Moreno was effective running the ball, opening up the play-action pass for Manning, who picked apart a Ravens defense that had two new starters at inside linebacker and a fill-in at safety. Manning completed eight of his 11 throws after using play-action fakes for 133 yards and a touchdown, according to ESPN Stats and Info. Wide receiver Eric Decker caught five of his six targets on such plays for 101 yards and that touchdown. With a win pretty much in hand in the fourth quarter, the Broncos took the air out of the ball, finishing with 45 carries, the most ever for a team quarterbacked by Manning.
Four -- games this season in which Ravens running back Ray Rice has not touched the ball on a single third-down play.
One week after setting a season-high in rushing yards in the loss to the Washington Redskins, the Ravens struggled to run the ball early and were forced to abandon the running game in the second half after falling behind by four touchdowns. Running back Ray Rice finished the game with 38 rushing yards on 12 carries and just 3 yards on three receptions. It was the fourth time this season and the second time in three weeks that he got 15 or fewer touches. It was also the fourth game this season in which Rice didn’t touch the ball on third down, according to ESPN Stats and Info. In related news, the Ravens were 1-for-12 on third down.
64.9 -- percentage of Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta’s catches that came when he was lined up as a slot receiver.
I wrote before the season that tight end Dennis Pitta was poised to have a breakout season, one of the few predictions I have actually nailed. His production has been spotty on a game-by-game basis, but if you add up his numbers, Pitta is having one of the best seasons by a tight end in team history. Pitta has seven receiving touchdowns, tying Todd Heap's team record for a tight end. And his 57 catches are second on the Ravens, one behind wideout Anquan Boldin. Pitta has done most of his damage as a slot receiver. According to Pro Football Focus, Pitta has 37 receptions for 409 yards and six touchdowns on routes he has run from the slot.
Though he has only played about two-thirds of the defensive snaps this season, rookie outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw has subtly been a pretty impactful run defender for a team that has struggled to tackle running backs. Upshaw is tied for fifth on the injury-riddled unit with 57 tackles, and his seven tackles for a loss lead the Ravens. He has missed just five tackles, according to Pro Football Focus, though four have come in the past three weeks. However, they say he had three defensive stops -- they define that as forcing an offensive failure, like tackling a runner after a minimal gain or knocking down a pass -- against the Broncos, and eight in the past three weeks. With 29 of his 34 tackles resulting in a stop on 281 snaps against the run, Upshaw is second among 3-4 outside linebackers with a run stop percentage of 10.3 percent.
Less than 1 -- percent chance the Ravens had of coming back Sunday after their touchdown made it 34-16 with 4:08 left to play.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh was scrutinized by fans and media -- including this blogger -- after he didn’t go for a two-point conversion with just over 4 minutes left in Sunday’s loss. After Pitta’s second touchdown catch made the score 34-16, Harbaugh had Justin Tucker kick an extra point instead of trying to cut the deficit to 16 points -- and two scores -- with a two-point conversion. I’m standing by my opinion on that one, but the reality is that it probably didn’t matter. According to Brian Burke of Advanced NFL Stats, the chances of a comeback were less than 1 percent either way. He said that two-point conversions are successful roughly 50 percent of the time, and that onside kicks in that situation -- where the opponent knows that one is coming -- are recovered about 10 percent of the time. "The chances of coming back were so low with 4 minutes to play, that it would be impossible to make a realistic estimate to conclude one path was better than the other,” Burke said in an email. It’s a fun topic to debate, though. Well, unless you are John Harbaugh.
Bloggers note: Have a nifty stat you want to share? E-mail me at email@example.com or contact me on Twitter at @mattvensel. If I end up using it, I’ll be sure to give you a nice plug on the blog.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun