Stats say Ravens can't be caught in third-and-long

Stats say Ravens can't be caught in third-and-long
January 9, 2013, 12:00 am
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Ravens turn their attention to Manning, Broncos

You know it’s important for the Ravens to stay out of obvious passing situations on Saturday against the Broncos. But did you know just how important?

The Football Outsiders put the situation in numbers that point to how the Ravens’ proclivity for giving up sacks and the Broncos’ ability to pick them up create a potential perfect storm for Joe Flacco. This season, the Ravens have been worse than the league average in yielding sacks on third and fourth downs and 4 or more yards to go. Overall, offenses suffered sacks on 8.8 percent of such plays. But the Ravens gave up sacks 11.1 of the time. And the Broncos, led by the charge of pass rusher deluxe Von Miller, record sacks on 17.7 percent of the longer-yardage plays.

Speaking of Miller, the Broncos like to line him up on the left side, which puts him opposite Ravens right tackle Michael Oher. The Outsiders say the Ravens can’t afford to ever leave Oher to handle Miller on his own, without either help from a chipping running back or tight end or a blocker to help double-team Miller. Statistically, Oher, who had been playing left tackle before Bryant McKinnie’s return to the starting lineup on Sunday, had 12 blown blocks (counting sacks and holding calls), according to the Outsiders, which would have ranked in the bottom five last season. “Every time the Broncos are able to isolate Miller on Oher will be a win for Denver,” the Outsiders wrote.

“If the Ravens want to protect Flacco, they'll need to open up their playbook and be unpredictable. If they wait until third down to pass, Flacco might not finish the game.”