Each Wednesday, blogger Matt Vensel highlights five stats that really mean something for the Ravens.
66.7 — percentage of first-down plays Sunday in which Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco attempted a pass.
In an attempt to catch the Pittsburgh Steelers off guard Sunday, the Ravens changed up their tendencies on first down. Instead of running the ball, which they had done on 55.8 percent of their first-down plays entering Week 7, the Ravens threw the ball on 16 of 24 first-down plays, or 66.7 percent. Quarterback Joe Flacco threw the ball on their first seven first-down plays of the game, and finished 12-for-24 for just 66 yards on first downs. Overall, the Ravens went three-and-out just once in the 19-16 loss and picked up 19 first downs in seven possessions.
79 — yards between the tackles for Le’Veon Bell on Sunday.
The Pittsburgh Steelers rushed for 141 yards on Sunday, the third time in the past four games the Ravens have allowed 140 or more rushing yards. Steelers rookie running back Le'Veon Bell led the way with 93 yards on 19 carries. He did most of his damage between the tackles. According to ESPN Stats and Info, Bell gained 79 yards on 15 rushes between the tackles, for an average of 5.3 yards per attempt. It was the first time all season the Steelers had gained more than 45 yards between the tackles; they had been averaging an NFL-worst 2.5 yards per attempt on such runs before Sunday.
Zero — drops for the Ravens in their loss to the Steelers.
Dropped passes were an issue for the Ravens early in the season, and only 10 NFL quarterbacks have had more of their passes dropped than Flacco, according to Pro Football Focus. But on Sunday, Flacco’s receivers were as sure-handed as they have been all season. Flacco threw 34 passes in the loss, and for the first time all season, not one was dropped. That included one third-down play in which Tandon Doss got drilled by Steelers safety Troy Polamalu and still hung on for a first-down catch.
21 — total missed tackles by the Ravens on special teams.
The Ravens had one of the NFL’s best special teams units last season. But this year, as they work new players into key roles, the Ravens have struggled with kickoff and punt coverage. They have yet to allow a touchdown — though they sure came close Sunday — but they rank 28th in the NFL in kickoff return coverage (26.4 yards per return) and 24th in punt return coverage (9.4 yards per return). One of the issues has been tackling. According to Pro Football Focus, the Ravens have already missed 21 tackles on special teams in 2013, with Anthony Levine and Matt Elam leading the team with three apiece. During the 2012 regular season, the Ravens missed just 20 tackles on special teams.
47.7 — Joe Flacco’s passer rating on deep balls in 2013.
No one threw deep balls more often than Flacco last season. The Ravens quarterback attempted a pass traveling at least 20 yards on a league-high 17.3 percent of his passes in 2012, according to Pro Football Focus. In 2013, he is 11th in the NFL, at 13.8 percent. And when Flacco has gone deep, the results haven’t been as good. Last season, Flacco had 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions when throwing passes at least 20 yards. This season, he is 9-for-37 on such attempts, for 383 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions, according to Pro Football Focus. That gives Flacco a passer rating of 47.7 on his deep attempts. An inconsistent deep passing game has hurt the Ravens.
Bloggers note: Have a nifty stat you want to share? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at me @mattvensel. If I use it, I’ll be sure to give you a nice plug on the blog.