Each Wednesday, blogger Matt Vensel will highlight five statistics that really mean something for the Ravens.
314 -- the number of Joe Flacco’s 341 passing yards Sunday that came on throws between the numbers.
One of the knocks on quarterback Joe Flacco early in his career was that he struggled to throw the ball into tight spaces over the middle. It’s an area in which he has improved over the years, and in Sunday’s 55-20 win over the Oakland Raiders, Flacco had a career-high 314 passing yards and three touchdowns when throwing between the numbers, according to ESPN. The Raiders often doubled Anquan Boldin and Torrey Smith on the outside by pushing their safeties toward the sidelines, and Flacco made them pay for it. He averaged 15 yards per attempt over the middle, as 10 of his 18 completions to that area of the field spanned at least 15 yards.
one -- players who have scored two or more kickoff return touchdowns spanning 105 yards or more in their career.
That would be Ravens kick returner Jacoby Jones, who scored two such touchdowns in a span of four games. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the closest another player came to that feat was Travis Williams, who had a 104-yard return in 1967 and a 105-yarder in 1971. Thanks in part to his two big returns -- and to excellent blocking from the Ravens return unit -- Jones now leads the NFL with a 38.6-yard average on kickoff returns.
Cornerback Cary Williams, who still gets scrutinized by some fans even though he entered Week 10 with four interceptions in his previous five games, didn’t pick off Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer. (He did come close on one play.) But according to Pro Football Focus, Williams had one of the best games of his career. Palmer, who on the afternoon completed 29 of his 45 attempts for 368 yards and two touchdowns, threw seven passes into his coverage area, completing three of them for 27 yards. That was an average of just 0.85 yards per snap in coverage. Williams might not be an elite cover corner, but he is holding his own out there.
3.78 -- Ray Rice’s yards-per-carry average over his previous four games.
Lost in the obsession over how many carries running back Ray Rice is getting is that he hasn't been all that efficient since he rushed for 102 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 5. Rice tied a season-low by averaging 2.7 yards per carry against the Raiders. In his past four games, he has 238 yards on 63 carries -- a 3.78 yards-per-carry average. Those four opponents keyed in on him in the passing game, too, holding him to an average of 23.5 receiving yards per game. But hey, at least he has scored four rushing touchdowns since Week 5, which I’m sure has buoyed his performance in the eyes of all the fantasy football players out there.
eight -- the total point differential in the past 10 games between the Ravens and Steelers, including the playoffs.
We know how close the NFL’s hard-hitting rivalry has been since the Ravens hired head coach John Harbaugh in 2008, but it’s still crazy to think about how razor sharp the margin of victory has been in those games. Six of those 10 games were decided by a field goal, and only two were by more than a touchdown. In those games, the Ravens outscored the Steelers, 192-184, due in large part to their 35-7 win in last year’s season opener. But the Steelers have the edge where it matters most: head-to-head playoff wins. The two AFC North rivals have split the season series, 4-4, since 2008, but the Steelers beat the Ravens twice in the postseason.
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.