Third Down Is When The Offense Steps Up

RAVENS NOTEBOOK

Notebook

Ravens Are Third In Nfl In Converting Those Chances

November 03, 2009|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,edward.lee@baltsun.com

Third downs - usually a tortuous test of an offense's effectiveness - have been a run-of-the-mill speed bump for the Ravens.

After converting 11 of 18 third downs in Sunday's 30-7 victory over the previously undefeated Denver Broncos, the offense ranks third in the NFL with a 48.4 percent success rate on third downs, trailing only the Indianapolis Colts (51.1 percent) and Miami Dolphins (50.5 percent).

"We always have a focus on converting third downs and keeping drives going," quarterback Joe Flacco said Sunday. "There's times where we've been a little inconsistent, we've had games where we've been really good, and we've had games where we've been average, and it was good to see that we came out and played really well on third down and kept those drives going."

Wide receiver Derrick Mason said the key to the offense's success on third downs is its work on the first two downs.

"Majority of the time, it's keeping it third and manageable," he said. "You can call a world of plays when it's third-and-two or third-and-seven. But when it's third-and-15 or third-and-20, there's not too many plays you can call."

Using Mason's rule of thumb, the Ravens are converting 58 percent (29 of 50) of third downs this season when they need 7 yards or fewer. The offense was even more prolific Sunday, succeeding on nine of 11 third downs of 7 yards or fewer against a Broncos team that had the league's top third-down defense.

"If you can convert on third down and keep a defense on the field, you have a pretty good chance to be successful," coach John Harbaugh said. "It plays into points, it plays into time of possession, everything."

Ngata's status undisclosed

Haloti Ngata was scheduled to undergo magnetic resonance imaging on his sprained right ankle Monday, but results of that procedure were not released.

Keeping to form, Harbaugh would not elaborate on the defensive tackle's status, saying: "As with all injuries, we'll have an injury report on Wednesday. So, we'll see."

Ngata, who ranks second among the Ravens'defensive linemen with 22 tackles, had said he expects to play Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Carr's first sack

Chris Carr's fourth-quarter sack of Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton was the first of his five-year NFL career.

Carr said he didn't blitz with the Oakland Raiders because the cornerbacks played man-to-man, and he didn't blitz with the Tennessee Titans because he never played nickel back.

"It was a straight blitz. I had one guy to beat, and I beat him," Carr said. "It felt good because you have to work it. ... A little guy like me doesn't get too many opportunities like that. So hopefully, they'll keep sending me and I'll get more sacks."

Tyree plays with some 'fire'

In his first game in almost two seasons, David Tyree played primarily on special teams. Still, the experience was a joyful one for Tyree, who missed the entire 2008 season with a hamstring injury and was cut by the New York Giants in September.

"With what was on the line for this football team, I just really wanted to contribute," he said. "I came here to boost the special teams unit. I just want to go out there with some fire and make a few plays, and I was able to have some positive plays and one negative play."

Tyree did chastise himself for running into Denver punter Mitch Berger, which earned him an earful from special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg. "I wanted to put the nail in the coffin," Tyree said. "I got ripped for it, and I deserved it."

End zone

Harbaugh said the decision to deactivate cornerback Frank Walker for Sunday's game was based on certain packages the defense was using but insisted that the unit still needs Walker. "He's a big part of our team, and Frank knows that," Harbaugh said. "Frank knows how we feel about him." ... After Steve Hauschka missed a potential 44-yard game-winning field-goal try in a two-point loss to the Minnesota Vikings Oct. 18, Harbaugh said the second-year kicker was instructed to convert from 44 yards "probably 10 times in practice in the last two weeks. The Lord works in mysterious ways, and He put Steve right back in that same spot," Harbaugh said, referring to Hauschka's 43-yarder in the first quarter of Sunday's win.

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