Keys to victory: No turnovers and kicking
November, 29, 2013
By ESPN Stats & Information | ESPN.com
AP Photo/Nick WassRavens kicker Justin Tucker made a career-high five field goals on Thursday.
The Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers played yet another close football game. Since 2003, the rivalry is as close as can be, with each team winning 12 games (including playoffs). Nine of the last 10 regular season games between the teams have been decided by three or fewer points.
Both quarterbacks played well, as evidenced by their Total QBRs of 79.7 (Roethlisberger) and 83.1 (Flacco), well above the average of 50. Ben Roethlisberger had two touchdown passes, giving him 212 for his career, tied with Terry Bradshaw for the most in Steelers franchise history.
He also notched his 25th consecutive game with a passing touchdown, tied with Tony Romo for second-longest active streak (Peyton Manning, 34).
Joe Flacco threw for 251 yards and a touchdown. For the first time since Week 7 (also against the Steelers), Flacco went through a game without throwing an interception. This reflected a larger theme, as it marked the first game in the Ravens-Steelers rivalry not to feature a turnover from either team (40 games including playoffs).
Flacco was effective in targeting Torrey Smith. Flacco was 6-of-10 for 93 yards and a touchdown when targeting Smith on Thursday, good for 9.3 yards per attempt. When targeting seven other Ravens pass catchers, he averaged 6.3 yards per attempt. He went farther downfield for Smith, and his average target depth was more than five yards longer to Smith than it was to his other receivers.
Where Flacco distinguished himself from Roethlisberger on Thursday was on third down, where the Ravens quarterback threw for 118 yards and a touchdown. Roethlisberger was good, but not to the level of Flacco, as he gained more than 50 fewer yards on third down.
Tucker gives the Ravens a kick
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker made a huge difference with his field goals. He made all five of his attempts on Thursday, reaching a career high for field goals made.
In fact, Tucker’s five field goals tied him for the most field goals made in any NFL game this season. After going 0-2 in Week 2, Tucker has made 27 consecutive field-goal attempts.
Did you know?
• Fun facts from the Elias Sports Bureau: Defending Super Bowl champions are 9-2 in Thanksgiving Day games, having won their last 7 contests. The Ravens were the second franchise to host a Thanksgiving Day game as the defending Super Bowl champion (the Cowboys have done so five times).
• The Steelers have not fared well in the national spotlight recently. Pittsburgh has lost four straight primetime games and seven of its last nine primetime games overall.
• The Steelers allowed two completions on passes traveling more than 30 yards downfield for the second time in a game in the last three seasons.
• The Ravens allowed their second rushing touchdown of the season. They have still allowed the fewest rushing touchdowns in the league.