It's been 166 postseason passes since Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco threw an interception, the fourth-longest streak in NFL history.
Every week, reporter Jon Meoli will serve up five stats you should know heading into that week's Ravens game. This week's stats, prepared ahead of Saturday's AFC divisional round showdown with the New England Patriots, focus on quarterback Joe Flacco's playoff success, the changing cast around him, and slowing down the Patriots' offense.
166 – Let's start where we started last week. It's been 166 postseason passes since Joe Flacco threw an interception, the fourth-longest streak in NFL history. The three ahead of him on that list — Drew Brees, Joe Montana, and Steve Young — are pretty good themselves. Count me among those who simply think his good games in January get more notice than they do in the regular season, when there are plenty of reasons to simply not pay attention to it — a dominant Ravens defensive performance, or the running game, or whatever else. Now, with a handful of games per weekend and a national audience, those performances stand out. It's a weird phenomenon when you have to explain how and why you're playing well, but I suppose it's better than the alternative.
22.7 – That said, there's been a lot of turnover around Flacco over these three vaunted playoff games in New England — two of which the Ravens won, and a third they easily could have. But of the 1,022 total yards gained in those three games, 22.7 percent (232) were rushing and receiving yards gained by players who won't be playing Saturday. Flacco is the constant, but only receiver Torrey Smith and running back Bernard Pierce played a meaningful offensive role in any of these games. So while the Ravens do have experience winning in New England on the road, it's not exactly the same personnel as those games. Neither is New England's.
53.4 -- According to ProFootballFocus.com, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's passer rating when under pressure is 53.4, more than half of his 113.1 rating when he's not pressured. Enter outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil. The Patriots' tackles, Sebastian Vollmer and Nate Solder, aren't the weak point in their line, but it's on Suggs and Dumervil, plus Pernell McPhee, to quickly generate pressure. The relationship between the pass coverage and the secondary is symbiotic, as judged by the improvement in Saturday's Pittsburgh game as opposed to the Week 9 contest. That'll be even more apparent Saturday.
23 – The Ravens allowed 23 red zone touchdowns this season on 54 trips, the second-lowest ratio in the NFL. By contrast, the Patriots have gotten inside their opponent's 20-yard line 67 times, and scored 39 touchdowns, a total tied for the best in the league with Denver and New Orleans. The Ravens' defense clearly steps up in that area and needs to do so again as the Patriots get to the red area over four times per game. Anything other than field goals in those situations could be problems for the Ravens.
30 – According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots are the league's 30th-best pass defense against tight ends, allowing an opponent-adjusted average of eight catches and 65.6 yards per game. The Patriots do a good job shutting off primary options with the two-headed cornerback monster of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, so I'm sure they're fine with teams throwing to tight ends to an extent, but the Ravens have broken off big chunks of yardage to tight ends Owen Daniels and Crockett Gillmore in the last few weeks. It could be on those two to make a few plays over the middle with the Patriots' ball-hawking safeties looming in order for the Ravens to move the ball through the air.