Offensive efficiency linked to third-down success

Ravens set season highs in third-down conversions and success rate

November 08, 2011|By Edward Lee

The Ravens offense enjoyed a rare display of success in Sunday night’s 23-20 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers as Joe Flacco became the first Ravens quarterback to throw for 300 yards in the all-time series and eight different players caught at least one pass.

The unit also excelled on third downs. The team converted 14-of-21 third downs en route to amassing 23 total first downs.

The number of third-down conversions is a season high, doubling the previous high of seven registered against Pittsburgh on Sept. 11. The 66.7 percent success rate is also a season best, outpacing the 43.8 percent posted against the Steelers.

Coach John Harbaugh pointed to the offense’s success on third downs as a significant factor in Sunday night’s win.

“That was key,” he said during his weekly conference Monday. “You’ve got to move the chains against any football team, but especially against the Steelers. You’ve got to keep them out there. You’ve got to keep any good defense out there if you can. You’re not going to have too many explosive plays. You’re not going to gash them by any stretch. But if you can move the chains, I think you have a chance.”

Prior to this past weekend, Pittsburgh hadn’t surrendered more than seven third-down conversions this season, and the Houston Texans’ 50 percent on Oct. 2 had been the defense’s worst showing. The Steelers forced just two three-and-outs against the Ravens Sunday night.

Still, Harbaugh declined to buy into the notion that the Pittsburgh defense was too exhausted at the end of the game.

“That would probably be a little bit of a strong way to say it,” he said. “I think they were still strong at the end. I think we made some plays. Anytime you can have a fast tempo on offense against them and then move the chains, that’s the key. You’ve got to move the chains, get first downs. It’s not too often that they play that many plays on defense. I think that’s something that they excel at, getting off the field and then staying on the field on offense because they’re a high-rate-of-conversions-on-third-down type team. So to flip that a little bit was big for us. The more you’re on the field on offense, the better chance you have.”

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