- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
- 0 Shares
Running in reverse: The Ravens are averaging 72.7 yards rushing per game, which is the sixth-worst in the NFL. It's the lowest rushing total after six games in the six-year John Harbaugh era, and it's not even close. The previous low was an average of 106.2 yards rushing last season, a difference of 33.5 yards per game. The Ravens are one of only two teams (Jacksonville is the other) gaining fewer than 3 yards per carry (2.7). The running game is suffering because of a lack of explosive plays. Baltimore has two runs over 20 yards and none over 40. Ray Rice's longest run this season is 14 yards. There has been criticism that the Ravens don't stick with the running game long enough, but Baltimore has averaged 26.5 rush attempts per game, which is tied for 16th in the league.
Good stats, bad results: Everyone wants to say quarterback Joe Flacco isn't earning his $120.6 million contract. But consider this: The Ravens are 0-3 when he throws for more than 300 yards this season. Baltimore has come up short when he's had his best passing totals against Denver, Buffalo and Green Bay. Flacco threw for 342 yards against the Packers, 47 yards shy of his career best. What does this mean? Flacco can't carry the team. He is at his best when there is a running game. This trend wasn't always the case. Before this season, the Ravens were 11-1 when Flacco threw for more than 300 yards.
Getting gashed: The Ravens allowed their first 100-yard rusher this year, and rookie Eddie Lacy got over halfway there on two runs. He broke gains of 37 and 17 yards against a Ravens defense that hadn't given up a 20-yard run this season. Baltimore allowed a season-worst 4.7 yards per carry as the Packers hit some big runs after spreading out the Ravens' defense. The Packers were having so much success that they called for runs on 59 percent of their second-half plays, the second-highest percentage for Green Bay in a half over the past three seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Five running backs gained more than 100 yards against the Ravens last season, but Baltimore was 3-2 in those games, including the Super Bowl.
Third-and-out: Without a productive running game on first and second downs, the Ravens haven't had too many reasonable third-down conversions. On Sunday, third downs led to more sacks (three) than first downs (two) for the Ravens. The last time the Ravens converted fewer third downs was last year's 34-17 loss to Denver. On Sunday, the Ravens needed at least 10 yards to convert on nine of their 14 third downs and needed at least 15 yards on four of them. You would have thought the Ravens would look to Torrey Smith in those third-and-long situations. But Smith, who was tied for seventh in the NFL with 10 third-down catches, was targeted only once on third down against the Packers.