Each Wednesday, blogger Matt Vensel will highlight five statistics that really mean something for the Ravens.
Five -- quarterback hurries by Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork in January’s AFC championship game.
Wilfork is one of the NFL’s best defensive linemen, and he showed it in the AFC championship game when he sacked Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco once and hurried him on five other plays. One of the most memorable plays was when Wilfork, who was lined up nose to nose with center Matt Birk, bulldozed Birk into Flacco’s lap and grabbed ahold of Flacco’s jersey, forcing Flacco throw it away on fourth down. But Birk wasn’t the only lineman to struggle against Wilfork, nor were the Ravens the first team to have their hands full with him. Wilfork had six sacks last season, and according to Pro Football Focus, he recorded 23 quarterback hurries.
38.7 -- percentage of passes thrown by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
Brady was third in the NFL with 611 pass attempts during the 2011 regular season, and 237 of those throws went to his tight ends (as a comparison, Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta combined for 145 targets). Gronk was targeted 124 times and he caught 90 of them -- a very impressive 73 percent catch rate -- for a record-setting 1,327 yards and 17 touchdowns. Hernandez was targeted 113 times and caught 79 of them for 910 yards and seven scores. Hernandez is hurt, and it looks like Wes Welker and the recently-signed Kellen Winslow will fill his role, depending on the situation. Winslow had 75 catches last season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
12 -- missed tackles by Ravens defenders in Sunday’s 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, according to Pro Football Focus.
At his Monday news conference, coach John Harbaugh admitted that there were too many missed tackles against the Eagles, although at least a couple might have occurred when Eagles running back LeSean McCoy danced in the backfield before being tackled by another defender. I’m not sure what Harbaugh’s count was, but Pro Football Focus had them at 12 missed tackles, including three apiece from safeties Ed Reed and James Ihedigbo. No missed tackle was more glaring than tight end Brent Celek hurdling Reed. Still, Harbaugh expects this to be a “great” tackling team. “That’s something that we’ve definitely got to chase,” he said.
69.1 -- Brady’s career passer rating in six games vs. the Ravens.
Outside of the 33-14 playoff loss in 2009, Brady always seems to get the best of the Ravens defense. He is 5-1 against the Ravens, with only one of those games coming at M&T Bank Stadium. But despite that win-loss record, the numbers show that the Ravens defense has actually gotten the best of him. Brady has completed just 56.8 percent of his passes against the Ravens for 1,372 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions. Reed had two of those interceptions and could have made more, which is why Brady showed the bearded ballhawk respect by writing “find 20 on every play” on his wristband before the AFC championship game.
30.4 -- Baltimore’s conversion rate on third down in 2012, which ranks 25th in the NFL, after going 4-for-14 against the Eagles.
Much is rightfully being made about the offense’s struggles in short-yardage situations, and those struggles have a lot to do with the Ravens having so much trouble converting on third down, no matter the distance. They were 3-for-9 against the Cincinnati Bengals and 4-for-14 against the Eagles. Flacco has completed 10 of his 17 attempts on third down for 116 yards and two touchdowns. But he has been sacked four times on third down and his lone interception on the season came on third down Sunday. But more telling is that Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice has yet to receive a single carry on third down (or fourth down for that matter).
Bloggers note: Have a nifty stat you want to share? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org 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.