A very brief historical look at the Ravens in third down-and-short situations

An article in Friday’s editions of The Sun centered on Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s defense of his decisions to call for passes on all five of the offense’s third down-and-short situations in Sunday’s 24-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

Running back Ray Rice, who had rushed for 99 yards on 16 carries (a 6.2 average), didn’t question Cameron’s play-calling, saying that the decisions were “great.”

History shows that the Ravens have been north of the 50 percent mark at converting on third downs of two yard or less since the beginning of 2011. Over that span, the offense has gained 35 first downs in 59 opportunities (59.3 percent).

But the Ravens have been better on third-and-1 than they have been on third-and-2. The unit has converted 25-of-34 chances (73.5 percent) on third-and-1, but just 10-of-25 (40.0) on third-and-2.

The Ravens have also enjoyed more success at converting third downs when they run the ball. In the 25 times the offense ran the ball on third-and-1, a first down was gained 20 times. In the nine times the unit passed the ball, a first down was recorded five times.

That pattern continued in third-and-2 scenarios. The offense went 4-of-8 when running the ball, but just 6-of-17 when throwing the ball.

This season, the Ravens are 0-of-5 on third-and-short, but Flacco said the solution is not terribly complicated.

“Obviously, we know what we did, and maybe we can take a couple more chances in different ways there,” he said Wednesday. “We all know what we could have done better there. I’m not going to sit up here and dissect the reasons. There are good reasons. They put pressure on us. We didn’t have time to get through a ton of the guys. We might have been able to stuff a couple of them in there with Ray [Rice], and it’s just a matter of we really didn’t execute well when we had the chance to, and that ended up being a pretty big part of the game – us not converting those. But sometimes that happens, and you’ve got to be able to overcome that.  We just weren’t able to.”

Rice, who has not carried the ball on third down yet this season, said he’s not worried about his touches in those scenarios.

“Giving our guys the opportunity to get open and make moves in open space, that’s where our offense is going to be,” he said. “And we’ll use [fullback] Vonta [Leach] plenty. We’re all team first. He knows his role, I know my role, and our role right now is to try to take care of this one and come to 2-1 at the end of Sunday.”

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