Each Wednesday, blogger Matt Vensel will highlight five statistics that really mean something for the Ravens.
Four -- Ravens sacks of San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers coming with four or fewer pass rushers.
The Ravens, who have been blitzing less than they did in the first half of the season, are finally starting to see consistent results with their pass rush. They recorded three sacks in a win over the Oakland Raiders and three more a week later in their win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Then against the Chargers, who have one of the NFL’s weakest offensive lines, the Ravens recorded a season-high six sacks. According to ESPN Stats and Info, four of those sacks came when the Ravens sent four or fewer pass rushers after Rivers, who completed 19 of his 30 attempts for 169 yards on 34 dropbacks in which the Ravens didn’t rush more than four defenders.
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10 -- consecutive red-zone successes for the Ravens defense.
For most of the season, the Ravens had one of the NFL’s stingiest defenses in the red zone -- one of a few things the then-reeling defense could hang its helmet on. But the Ravens have kicked it up another notch over the past few games. Since the Week 8 bye week, the Ravens have yet to allow a red-zone touchdown. Opponents have crossed the Baltimore 20-yard line 10 times in those games and they were turned away every time. Now the Ravens rank first in red-zone defense, surrendering touchdowns just 34.2 percent of the time. That played a big role in the Ravens allowing a league-best 14.5 points per game in November.
82 -- yards after the catch for Torrey Smith in Sunday’s win.
Second-year wide receiver Torrey Smith has become one of the NFL’s most dangerous deep threats. That’s why opponents have tried to neutralize the deep passing attack -- quarterback Joe Flacco completed just two of his 10 attempts of 20 or more yards against the Chargers, per Pro Football Focus -- but the Ravens smartly found other ways to get Smith the ball Sunday. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Smith caught a career-high six passes for 113 yards on throws 10 yards or fewer downfield. He also had a career-high 82 yards after the catch. Those quick throws to Smith and Jacoby Jones helped Flacco find his rhythm in the comeback.
87 -- receiving yards Anquan Boldin needs to get to 10,000.
Unlike some of the diva wide receivers from this era, Ravens wide Receiver Anquan Boldin doesn’t draw attention to himself -- unless you count devastating blocks like the one he laid on Chargers safety Eric Weddle. But quietly, Boldin is closing in on a pretty impressive milestone. With 757 career receptions for 9,913 receiving yards, he is 87 receiving yards shy of 10,000 for his career and would become the 39th player to accomplish that feat. Boldin did most of his damage with the Arizona Cardinals, catching 586 passes for 7,520 yards out in the desert. He has 171 catches for 2,393 yards in his three seasons with the Ravens.
65 -- yards after contact for running back Ray Rice, who ran for 97 yards on 22 carries against the Chargers.
Ray Rice made something out of nothing when he took a dump-off from Flacco and improbably converted on that 4th-and-29 play. But Rice had been making something out of nothing all afternoon. According to Pro Football Focus, 65 of his 97 rushing yards in Sunday’s win came after contact, which was a season-high. Rice averaged 3.0 yards after contact -- he broke five tackles as a runner -- and just 1.4 yards before contact.
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.