By Matt Vensel
The Baltimore Sun
8:00 AM EST, December 31, 2013
Each week, reporter and blogger Matt Vensel highlights five stats that really mean something for the Ravens. This week, he chose five stats that told the story of the team’s first non-playoff season since 2007.
1,328 -- rushing yards for the Ravens offense in 2013.
A season ago, Ravens running back Ray Rice was selected to another Pro Bowl and rookie backup Bernard Pierce shined whenever Rice needed a breather. The team rushed for 1,901 yards, which ranked 11th in the NFL. Despite returning most of their offensive personnel from 2012, the Ravens could not run the ball in 2013. The Ravens rushed for just 1,328 yards -- including 660 yards from Rice, his least productive season as a starter -- on 423 carries, which was the lowest number of rushing yards in team history. The Ravens rushed for just 3.1 yards per carry, which was last in the league and the fewest in the NFL in more than a decade.
22 -- interceptions thrown by Joe Flacco this season.
The quarterback threw eight interceptions in his final four games, including three in the season finale in Cincinnati, to finish with a career-high 22 interceptions. His previous high was 12 interceptions, which he did in three different seasons. Flacco threw multiple interceptions in seven games. It was a stark contrast from his remarkable postseason performance last winter, when he threw for 11 touchdowns and no interceptions while leading the Ravens to the Super Bowl. His 22 interceptions were the most ever in a single season for a Ravens quarterback -- yes, including Kyle Boller -- and three more than Vinny Testaverde chucked up back in 1996.
three -- sacks for the Ravens in their final five games.
The pass rush was once the team’s biggest strength as the Ravens sacked the quarterback 27 times in their first seven games, many of them coming while rushing just four defenders. But the pass rush disappeared down the stretch as the Ravens stunningly recorded just three sacks in their final five games. In Sunday's loss to the Bengals, the Ravens weren’t even credited with a quarterback hit. Looking for a scapegoat? Look no further than their two highest-paid defenders. Rush linebacker Terrell Suggs had just one sack in his final eight games and nose tackle Haloti Ngata finished with fewer sacks than little-used defensive end DeAngelo Tyson.
11 -- straight red-zone TDs allowed by the Ravens.
A month ago, no defense was better in the red zone than the Ravens, who through 12 weeks led the NFL in that important area. After their win over the New York Jets, they had surrendered touchdowns on just 31.0 percent of red-zone drives, which put them on pace to have the NFL's best mark in more than a decade. But things fell apart. Starting in Week 13, the Ravens allowed their opponents to score 11 straight touchdowns in the red zone. The streak finally came to an end when cornerback Jimmy Smith picked off Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton in the end zone in the fourth quarter Sunday. The Ravens finished eighth in red-zone defense at 48.8 percent.
48 -- dropbacks on which Flacco was sacked in 2013.
Flacco had a disappointing season, but to be fair, he took a beating. Flacco was sacked 48 times, second to only Ryan Tannehill of the Miami Dolphins and nearly three times as many as Peyton Manning of the Denver Broncos. It was the most Flacco had ever been sacked during a regular season. The offensive line deserves a sizable chunk of the blame as only seven offensive lines allowed more than their 210 total quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. But the running backs and tight ends also whiffed at times in pass protection and some of the sacks were on Flacco for not getting rid of the ball. Still, that sack total was way too high.
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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