By Matt Vensel
1:07 PM EDT, October 24, 2012
Each Wednesday, blogger Matt Vensel will highlight five statistics that really mean something for the Ravens.
27.8 -- Joe Flacco’s completion percentage on pass attempts of 5 yards or longer in Sunday’s 43-13 loss.
Quarterback Joe Flacco has evolved as a downfield passer this season, and the Ravens entered Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans with more passing plays of 20 or more yards than any team in the NFL. But the explosive passing game fizzled out against the Texans, who disrupted the offense with press coverage and consistent pressure up front. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Flacco did complete a throw beyond 10 yards and completed just five of his 18 attempts that were 5 yards downfield or longer. His lone touchdown pass came on a screen play to wide receiver Tandon Doss, who caught the ball behind the line of scrimmage.
5.2 -- average yards per carry by the Texans against the Ravens’ base 3-4 defense Sunday, according to ESPN Stats and Info.
The Ravens defense has been outmuscled up front the past three weeks, and this interesting stat from the guys at ESPN reflects that. Baltimore only used its base 3-4 defense on 27 of Houston’s 80 offensive plays. On those plays, the Texans averaged 5.2 yards per carry with a stable of runners that included Pro Bowl running back Arian Foster. According to ESPN, it was the second straight week in which the Ravens allowed at least five yards per carry against their base defense, which used to excel at stopping the run. From 2008 to 2011, the Ravens' base defense only allowed at least 5 yards per carry in four games (with a minimum of 20 rushing attempts).
26:06 -- average time of the possession for the Ravens in 2012.
After allowing the Dallas Cowboys to hog the ball for 40 minutes in Week 6 and the Texans to possess it for 38 minutes Sunday, the Ravens now rank last in the NFL in average time of possession. The 5-2 Ravens are the only team with a winning record among the dozen teams that are at the bottom of that list. Since 2008, the Ravens, on average, held the ball more than their opponents in three of the four seasons, including in 2008 when they led the league in time of possession with an average of 33:22. How can they improve this? Getting better on third down. The offense is 20th in third-down conversions at 35 percent and the defense is letting opponents convert 42 percent of the time, which ranks 22nd.
12 -- tackles by linebacker Dannell Ellerbe against the Texans.
Understandably overlooked after the 30-point loss to the Texans was the play of inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who made a game-high 12 tackles while filling in for the injured Ray Lewis in his first start of the season. Sure, he had plenty of opportunities to make tackles considering how much the Ravens defense was on the field. But he actually helped the defense get a breather with a few key plays. Ellerbe had five stops, according to Pro Football Focus, which defines them as plays in which the offense fails. In the first half, there were four plays in which the Texans attacked him on third down and he either blanketed the receiver or tackled them short of the first down.
4-0 -- John Harbaugh’s record the first game after a bye week since becoming head coach in 2008.
John Harbaugh clearly learned one valuable thing from his mentor, Andy Reid. The Philadelphia Eagles coach is 13-0 after the bye week. While Harbaugh has a long way to go to establish that kind of track record, he is off to a good start. In his first four seasons as Ravens coach, his teams have won each game directly after the bye week, including in 2008, when the Ravens had to take an early bye week after a hurricane swept through Houston in Week 2 and postponed their game with the Texans. In those four wins, the Ravens outscored opponents, 113-41, and the tightest game was a 29-14 win over the Texans last season.
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.
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