three -- touchdown passes Joe Flacco needs in the Super Bowl to tie the record for most in one postseason.
Joe Flacco can win his first Super Bowl in 11 days. He can join elite company in the record books, too. With eight touchdown passes and zero interceptions, Flacco is in the middle of one of the greatest postseasons a quarterback has ever had, at least statistically speaking. Only six quarterbacks have ever thrown more TD passes in a single postseason than Flacco has entering the Super Bowl -- and those guys have last names like Montana, Manning and Young. According to Pro Football Reference, Joe Montana and Kurt Warner are tied for the most touchdown passes in one postseason with 11, and Montana did it in 1989 without throwing a single interception. According to ESPN Stats and Info, five quarterbacks, not including Flacco, have thrown at least eight touchdown passes in a postseason without a pick -- and all five of them won the Lombardi Trophy.
8.4 -- San Francisco’s yards per carry on option plays in the playoffs.
When the 49ers installed Colin Kaepernick as their starting quarterback, they introduced more option plays. They saved a little something for the playoffs, though, and have caught their opponents off guard. According to ESPN Stats and Info, the 49ers have run option plays 29 times in the playoffs after using them just 26 times in Kaepernick’s seven regular-season starts. On those postseason plays, the 49ers have averaged 8.4 yards per rush with four touchdowns. Kaepernick has rushed for 202 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs, but the 49ers did most of their damage in the win over the Atlanta Falcons when he handed off to his running backs. To prepare, the Ravens can turn to their game tape from Week 14, but they might not like what they see. The Washington Redskins averaged 6.2 yards per rush on option plays in that game, according to ESPN.
38 -- yards allowed in coverage by Cary Williams in Sunday’s win.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady picked on cornerback Cary Williams back in Week 3, targeting him 13 times for nine completions and 157 yards, with most of the damage done by wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. After that game, many fans were ready to run Williams out of town, as if he was the first guy to have a rough game against Brady. Williams got a little bit of redemption in the AFC championship game, though. He was targeted nine times, allowing five catches for just 38 yards. Lloyd specifically had four grabs for 33 yards against him. Overall, Williams allowed an average of 0.68 receiving yards per snap in coverage and one reception once every 11.2 snaps in coverage, according to Pro Football Focus.
4.49 -- San Francisco’s adjusted line yards per carry, tops in the NFL.
The 49ers were fourth in the NFL in rushing during the regular season, and their 5.1 yards-per-carry average ranked third. They've kicked it up a notch in the playoffs -- in part due to the option plays I mentioned above, but they had had success on standard running plays, too. The 49ers are averaging 236 rushing yards per playoff game on 6.6 yards per carry. A lot of it has to do with an offensive line that includes three first-round picks. That group is the NFL’s best at run blocking, according to the adjusted line yard metric from Football Outsiders. That metric only looks at runs by running backs and, in their words, “adds a penalty for runs stuffed in the backfield and caps off all runs at 10 yards, so the numbers aren't skewed by a handful of long yards.” At 4.49 adjusted line yards per carry, the 49ers are the league's best. For comparison sake, the Ravens are sixth at 4.34.
52 -- percentage of plays in which the Ravens attempted a pass under offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh announced Monday that the interim tag had been removed from offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell and that he would continue to call the plays in 2013. You can point to a lot reasons why the decision to go with Caldwell has paid off -- how about the 90 points the Ravens have scored in these playoffs? -- but the balance of the offense is intertwined with that. Under former coordinator Cam Cameron, the Ravens attempted a pass on 60 percent of their plays, according to ESPN Stats and Info. That has dropped to 52 percent under Caldwell (though, to be fair, Cameron usually called more running plays late in the season and in the playoffs in years past). Finding harmony with the run and the pass paid off in the win in New England, as Flacco threw for 240 yards on 36 attempts and Ray Rice and the Ravens rushed for 121 on 33 carries.
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.