Friday, November 29, 2013
Upon Further Review: Ravens Week 13
By Jamison Hensley
A review of four hot issues from the Baltimore Ravens' 22-20 win against the Pittsburgh Steelers:
Chillin' at home: The Ravens improved their record to 14-2 in home games when the temperature at kickoff is below 40 degrees, winning 14 of the past 15 times this has happened. It was 37 degrees at the start of Thursday night's game with the Steelers. The Ravens, who are 5-1 at home this season, have always played their best at M&T Bank Stadium, although not necessarily against their biggest rival. Since 2010, the Ravens are now just 2-2 against Pittsburgh in Baltimore, and 26-2 against the rest of the league (including playoffs) at home.
Pressure doesn't result in picks: Joe Flacco didn't throw an interception for the first time since Week 7 (Oct. 20), which just happened to be the last time the Ravens played the Steelers. Over the past four weeks, Flacco had been picked off six times in 78 passes, an average of one every 13 throws. On Thursday night, he wasn't intercepted on 35 passes. Since 2011, the Ravens are 15-2 in games when Flacco doesn't throw an interception. The key against the Steelers was the improved pass protection, especially against Pittsburgh's blitzes. Flacco was 7-of-10 (70 percent) when the Steelers sent five or more rushers, his highest completion percentage against the blitz this season, according to ESPN Stats & Information. He had a 52 percent completion rate against additional pressure entering the game, which ranked 31st among 38 qualified quarterbacks.
Fast starts: The Ravens have dominated the first quarter recently, which is quite a turnaround from the first two months of the season. In the past four games, the Ravens have outscored teams 30-3 in the first quarter. Compare this to the first eight games, when the Ravens ranked third in fewest points scored in the first quarter (16). Baltimore marched 71 yards for a touchdown on its opening drive against Pittsburgh, the second time in four weeks the Ravens have reached the end zone on their first possession of a game. The Ravens are now 43-9 (.826) under coach John Harbaugh when scoring first.
Extending the drive: The Ravens punted only once, marking just the fifth time in team history they had one or no punts in a game. The last time the Ravens punted one time in a game was Oct. 31, 2005, when the Ravens played at Pittsburgh. When you take away the drive that ended the first half and the game, the Ravens were able to get inside the Steelers' 31-yard line on six of seven possessions. The Ravens were able to sustain drives by going 10-of-17 on third downs, which was a season-high 58.8 percent success rate for Baltimore. Six Ravens converted third downs, including Torrey Smith, who did it four times. Flacco threw for 118 yards and a touchdown on third down.