By Matt Vensel
The Baltimore Sun
7:00 AM EST, December 11, 2013
Each Wednesday, blogger Matt Vensel highlights five stats that really mean something for the Ravens.
25 -- routes run out of the slot by Dennis Pitta on Sunday.
Four months after injuring his hip, Pitta made his season debut in Sunday’s win over the Minnesota Vikings and played 36 snaps. He had six catches for 48 yards on a team-high 11 targets and also scored. Pitta did most of the damage out of the slot, not as a traditional in-line tight end. Five of Pitta's receptions came as a slot receiver for 30 yards and that fourth-quarter touchdown. He ran 25 of his 31 routes out of the slot, according to Pro Football Focus, and that 80.6 slot route percentage is the most among all NFL tight ends this season. One game is small sample size, of course, but look for Pitta to be flexed out into the slot a lot going forward.
Seven -- games between TDs allowed by Jimmy Smith.
When Vikings wide receiver Jerome Simpson beat Smith on a post route for a touchdown Sunday, he joined select company. Only two other players, Denver wide receiver Andre Caldwell and Miami tight end Charles Clay, have scored touchdowns while being covered by the Ravens cornerback this season, according to Pro Football Focus. Smith had gone seven games without allowing a touchdown in coverage before Sunday. Still, it was another strong game by Smith, who allowed just two completions on five targets for 28 yards. The last time he allowed more than 43 yards in receptions was the Week 3 win over the Houston Texans.
32nd -- the Ravens’ rank in rushing DVOA this season.
If you are unfamiliar with DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average), the signature stat of Football Outsiders, it is a metric that evaluates the efficiency of teams based not only on yardage, but also the situation and opponent. When it comes to running the ball, the Ravens are last in the NFL in rushing DVOA, according to Football Outsiders, with a negative-31.1 percent DVOA, which is worse than even the Jacksonville Jaguars, who are 31st at negative-27.7 percent. It is among the worst rushing DVOA marks since 1991, which is as far back as Football Outsiders has tracked. But hey, at least the Ravens are finally averaging three yards per carry.
Four -- end-zone catches for Marlon Brown in 2013.
The rookie wide receiver was one of the heroes of Sunday's win, catching seven balls for 92 yards and the game-winning score. Brown now has six touchdown receptions this season, tied with Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria for the most among rookies and one shy of Torrey Smith’s franchise record for touchdowns by a rookie, set two years ago. It hasn’t happened often, but Brown has shown a penchant for making plays whenever quarterback Joe Flacco looks his way in the end zone. Brown has caught all four of his targets in the end zone, according to ESPN Stats and Info. None of his teammates have more than three end-zone catches.
61 -- wins for Joe Flacco in his first six NFL seasons.
Flacco drove the Ravens down the field for touchdowns not once, but twice in the final three minutes of Sunday’s game and his nine-yard touchdown pass to Brown with four seconds left gave him the 18th game-winning touchdown drive in the fourth quarter or overtime in his career. It also got him his 61st career win in six NFL seasons, giving him the most by a starting quarterback in his first six seasons in the NFL. The previous mark was held by Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and Ravens nemesis Ben Roethlisberger, who won 60 from 2004 to 2009. Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, drafted the same year as Flacco, has 59 career wins.
Bloggers note: Have a stat you want to share? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet at me at @mattvensel. If I use it, I’ll be sure to give you a nice plug on the blog.
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