Offense thrives in 3rd-and-long situations

Offense thrives in 3rd-and-long situations
November 29, 2012, 2:00 pm
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The Ravens will be ready for whoever the Steelers start at QB

For whatever reason, the Ravens keep slipping into long-yardage situations on third down.

In last week’s overtime win at the San Diego Chargers, they had third-and-10, 7, 10, 9, 16 and 15 in the first half alone when they failed to score. In the second half, it was third-and-7, 8, 20, 6, and 10 twice.

Still, the Ravens converted 12 of 24 en route to a 16-13 comeback victory.

“Third down has been an area of concern for us. That’s been something that we have really spent a lot of time on -- really all throughout the year -- but recently we’ve really worked hard at third down,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We’d rather be in third-and-three, -four, -five, -one, -two.”

Of course, the Ravens haven’t been good in third-and-short, either.

In the second quarter Ray Rice was dropped for a 1-yard loss on 3rd-and-1. At the end of the third quarter, they failed to get a yard on the Chargers’ 14 on third down. Then they failed again on fourth down when Bernard Pierce was dropped for a 2-yard loss.

“We didn’t get a third-and-one, and we had a fourth-and-one. So, I guess it goes both ways, and yet we are converting some third-and-longs, which is a credit to Joe, the receivers, the pass protection,” Harbaugh said. “So, sometimes you’ve just got to do whatever it takes. I think our guys have found a way to do that.”

In the Ravens’ last home game, a 55-20 rout of the Oakland Raiders, they converted from 5 of 12 third downs. Three of them were from 10, 15 and 9 yards.

Though the long distances aren’t preferred, it’s a significant improvement considering Baltimore’s conversion rates in games this season. It was 4-for-14 vs. the Philadelphia Eagles, 3-for-11 vs. the Kansas City Chiefs, 4-for-15 vs. the Houston Texans and 10-for-29 in two games with the Cleveland Browns.

The Ravens converted at 42% last season when they went 12-4 and advanced to the AFC title game. This season, they’re 36.9%.

"It’s just the reality of football. You deal with what you’re faced with, and that’s what we are trying to do as a team, and offense on third down is a good example of that,” Harbaugh said. “Whatever third down we get, we want to convert it. But, we sure as heck want to make it as manageable as we can, and we’ll just keep fighting to do that.”