Ravens throw short, run for sticks

Ravens throw short, run for sticks
November 26, 2012, 10:15 pm
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Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) tries to elude San Diego Chargers linebacker Donald Butler (56) at Qualcomm Stadium. The Ravens defeated the Chargers 16-13 in overtime.

(Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-US PRESSWIRE)

Ray Rice’s game-saving, superlative-multiplying, instant-classic catch-and-run (there was a big discount on hyphens on Black Friday at the Blog Writing Store) against the Chargers on Sunday obviously stands on its own as a play Ravens fans will long remember. However, it is also the greatest example yet of the kind of play we have seen a few times this season.

The Ravens have been getting first downs — on third-down efforts, not last-ditch fourth downs like Sunday — when the pass is short of the marker and the success depends on the ability of the receiver to rack up YAC (yards after catch, though it is also sometimes used to indicate yards after contact).

When this play doesn’t work, you’ll hear the analyst on television say something about how the pass didn’t make sense because the receiver needed to get to the first-down stick to set up for the catch. The alternative is to throw it short and give your guy a chance to make a play to pick up the first down.

Rice’s effort on Sunday is an extreme version, but far from the only time the Ravens have played dump-and-run with him. The other Raven targeted in the same fashion in recent games has been wide receiver Anquan Boldin. He’s not the fastest receiving option, but he’s big and strong and capable of YAC-ing it up.

Of course, from now on, everyone’s YAC attack will be measured against Rice’s.