Each week the Ravens put out a press release that looks a little like the media guide with some similar information. I would guess the target audience is primarily the other team’s media, because the information doesn’t change too much from week to week.
If you like the media guide and the little information boxes, you’d love this stuff. The Ravens have the 4th best record against the NFC since 2008 (10-5). The Ravens have allowed the fewest 1st-possession points in the NFL this season (0, Arizona/Houston had allowed 7 entering Sunday). My favorite, however, are the Ravens’ gaudy records when they win the turnover battle since 2000 (58-1 when at least +2 and 80-4 when +1 or better).
I interviewed a candidate for an actuarial job a few years back. This young man said he had done a project for school and found that fumbles were not particularly well correlated to wins, but that interceptions were highly correlated. I asked him why he thought that was true.
He started to talk about the fact that an interception was more likely to be returned for a score while the recovering team is more likely to just fall on a fumble. That may be true, but it’s not the primary reason as I’m sure you probably know.
Since the trailing team must take more passing risks as the game winds down, they frequently pick up interceptions as a result. However, fumbles are not as well correlated, because they are not a natural consequence of most come-from-behind strategies.
We call that mistaking correlation for causality or ascribing causality to correlation.
Are turnovers something to be avoided? Of course. Can you often point to a key turnover as the turning point in a close game? Sure. However, the most common way to win the turnover margin is to get a lead and force the other team to make mistakes while your quarterback is able to manage the game safely.
So the next time the announcer puts up his keys to the game and one of them is something like “win the turnover battle”, you’ll know he really means “get ahead, manage the clock, and force the opponent to take chances catching up”.
The offensive line scores were good this week. That is a reflection of a penalty and sack-free game.
The Ravens had just 54 offensive snaps excluding the 4 kneels.
McKinnie: Bryant’s primary responsibilities were Justin Smith an Aldon Smith who together make one hellacious assignment. He was having a terrific game until the 4th quarter when he stumbled. He allowed a QH by Aldon Smith on Flacco’s TD pass (Q4, 15:00). With the Ravens running out the clock, he was beaten inside by Aldon for a penetration to take down Rice for a loss of 1. I scored all 6 of his missed blocks on runs up the middle. Scoring: 46 blocks, 6 missed, 1 penetration, 1 QH, 41 points (.76 per play).
Grubbs: Ben had 6 blocks in level 2, 4 of which were on Willis. He pulled 3 times, his first attempts since returning, and connected on all 3. I noticed no mobility struggles. He added 2 pancakes. Most importantly, he did not have any negative events as a pass blocker. Scoring: 50 blocks, 4 missed, 50 points (.93 per play).
Birk: He was driven backwards several yards by Sopoaga on the failed 3rd and 1 (Q4, 9:52). Williams took a wider path that resulted in no gain. Since the play did not go for a loss, he gets only a missed block on the play. He missed just 1 other block which also led to no gain. Birk had 1 block in level 2. Scoring: 52 blocks, 2 missed, 50 points (.96 per play).
Yanda: Marshal was blocked straight backwards by Sopoaga (Q1, 10:41) which pressured Flacco. He also allowed a QH to Sopoaga (Q3, 4:38) when he failed to stay with his block as Flacco stepped up. Yanda was otherwise outstanding. He made 9 blocks in level 2, 3 of which came on Bowman and the last 6 on Willis. His 2nd-half blocks versus Willis were very physical and he appeared to take pleasure driving him back several yards on every play. Scoring: 51 blocks, 1 missed, 1 pressure, 1 QH, 46 points (.85 per play).
Oher: Oher returned to top form against the 49ers. His only negatively scored play occurred when Aldon Smith steamrolled him for a QH (Q2, 15:00). He had 4 blocks in level 2, including 2 on Willis. He was faced several times with the opportunity to block LCB Carlos Rogers who is 199 lbs, but would typically simply touch him up with Rogers retreating or standing still (examples include Q4, 12:18 and Q4, 4:02). I wonder why he didn’t give Rogers a physical beating as he would a lineman. Scoring: 52 blocks, 2 missed, 1 QH, 49 points (.91 per play).
Reid: Reid entered for Rice’s ill-fated sweep right from the 1 at LTE and failed to make a block. It was his only snap. Ngata did not see action.
Other Offensive Notes:
• On Sunday, Flacco had ATS on 14 of his 23 pass attempts (61%). With ATS, he completed 10 of 14 passes for 111 yards with 0 TDs and 0 INT. The 7.9 YPP is somewhat of an understatement given the Ravens longest play of the night was the 50-yard PI call. That ball was underthrown, but Brown needed to lock up Smith to prevent separation. Add the PI as a completion and Flacco is 10.7 YPP with ATS.
• Joe had outstanding results without ATS. He completed 5 of 9 for 50 yards, including the TD to Pitta (on a QH) with no sacks or turnovers (5.6 YPP).
• Evans’ catch (Q3, 5:19) and outmuscling of Donte Whitner was his biggest contribution of the season and one of the big plays in the game. PFF shows him with 21 snaps, up from 11 last week. We have yet to see a demonstration of speed like we did in the preseason.
• Boldin had an up and down game. He was successful running pick routes as the last to release from the bunch. The best example was his slow release from the bunch right (Q1, 13:48) which he caught between Rogers and Culliver between the right hash and numbers for 7 yards + 15 YAC. Even a fine defensive team like the 49ers matched him up with a linebacker (Brooks) when he lined up in the slot on the very next play (Q1, 13:09). That was a mismatch that went for 16 yards (including 9 YAC). However, he had another drop (Q, T) and has now had 1 or more in each of the last 4 games.
• For the second straight week the Ravens failed to convert some important short-yardage situations. They failed to convert at the goal line (Q2, 4:10) and failed on 3rd and inches at the 49ers 46 (Q4, 9:52). The desire to run wide in those situations is frustrating, not because it can’t work, but because in previous years they have used both a 6 and 7-man front with Haloti Ngata to lead the way rather than a poor blocker like Ed Dickson in at TE.
• If you haven’t seen the Sound FX special on the game from the NFL network, it’s outstanding and will no doubt be repeated this week. It’s a virtual comp for the 2004 GOTW versus the Jets which was the first NFL Films produced in this without-a-narrator format. They have 5 players (Rice, Suggs, Flacco, Willis, Smith), both head coaches, a booth coordinator for each team, both broadcast crews, and the referee. It’s real and very funny. If you haven’t seen the 2004 game against the Jets, it’s available on Hulu and I’d say the broadcast is a cut above that of Thursday’s game since there is more focus on the game itself. It’s also the deepest insight into the complexity of coaching Ray Lewis I’ve ever seen presented.
• Lost in the Sound FX presentation was the man handling of Patrick Willis in the run game. Yanda and Grubbs took terms sticking a shoulder on him. He also absorbed blocks from Oher and Leach. For the game, he was in on 8 tackles but only 2 would be termed defensive victories. The Ravens ran the ball 31 times for just over 3 yards per carry, but Willis’ 4 run stops were for 7, 3, 3, and 4 yards respectively. The Ravens simply never let him get near the LoS unblocked to stuff a runner. He did make 2 jarring tackles on short pass plays in the middle.
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