FILMSTUDY: 2008 Ravens Takeaways-Part II

Filmstudy FILMSTUDY: 2008 Ravens Takeaways-Part II

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This is the 2nd installment of analysis of the 2008 takeaways.  The layout and scoring system is described in the first article:


We pick up with game 9, the rescheduled game at Houston.


Hou 11/9/08


13.     Q1  1-1-BLT 1 (1:44) S.Rosenfels pass short middle intended for O.Daniels INTERCEPTED by H.Ngata (H.Ngata) at BLT 0.  Touchback (M.Brisiel).


The Ravens set up in their 3-safety goal line alignment against a 3-TE, 2 RB set.  Rosenfels ran play action and Ngata shadowed him as he looked right.  Haloti timed his leap as Sage threw and tipped the ball up.  He dropped to the ground, spun quickly and dove to make the acrobatic interception.  He stayed down for the touchback.  I credit one importance point since this eventually-lopsided game was scoreless at this point.  Scoring:  Ngata 9 (5 + 1 importance + 3 acrobatic).


14.     Q3  1-10-BLT 39 (6:35) S.Rosenfels pass short middle intended for O.Daniels INTERCEPTED by R.Lewis at BLT 30.  R.Lewis to HST 41 for 29 yards (S.Slaton).


The Ravens rushed 4 (no one dropped to coverage) from a standard set on this play.  Ngata pressured Rosenfels who threw a very ill-advised pass directly to Ray Lewis.  Lewis returned the ball 29 yards towards the left sideline as both Scott and Suggs made good blocks on the return.  Scoring:  Lewis 8 (5 + 3 return), Scott 2, Suggs 2.


15.     Q4  2-5-HST 25 (8:06) (Shotgun) S.Rosenfels pass short middle intended for A.Johnson INTERCEPTED by R.Lewis at HST 33.  R.Lewis to HST 19 for 14 yards (A.Green).


With the Texans still hoping for a comeback, the Ravens played nickel on 2nd and 5.  They rushed 4 with Scott dropping to zone, but got only mild pressure on Rosenfels.  Once again, the Texans QB fired to a wide-open Ray Lewis who did not have any Houston receiver within 5 yards.  JJ threw a nice block on the return.  Scoring:  Lewis 7 (5 + 2 return), Johnson 2.


16.     Q4  1-10-HST 13 (6:23) (Shotgun) S.Rosenfels pass short left intended for A.Johnson INTERCEPTED by S.Rolle at HST 20.  S.Rolle to HST 17 for 3 yards (A.Johnson).


The Ravens brought a plain-vanilla, 4-man pass rush and did not get pressure.  Rosenfels took a short drop and fired for Andre Johnson, but Rolle slipped in for the pick.  Johnson looked particularly upset by the pass.  The Ravens would score to take a 41-13 lead and the Texans next possession could be described as “turnover prevention offense”.  Scoring:  Rolle 5.


NYG 11/16/08


17.     Q2  1-10-BLT 18 (:19) (No Huddle, Shotgun) E.Manning pass short middle intended for K.Boss INTERCEPTED by R.Lewis at BLT 6. R.Lewis to BLT 6 for no gain (C.Snee).


The Ravens rushed 4 from the nickel as the Giants attempted to score before the half.  There was no real pressure on Eli Manning, but Lewis easily slipped between him and the intended target, Kevin Boss.  Lewis was tackled quickly and the Ravens dodged another 3 or 7.  The end zone replay clearly shows Manning was fortunate.  Reed was part of the double on Boss, and he can be seen reading Eli as the ball is thrown.  Had Ray not have slipped in, it appeared Reed would have had a clean path to the ball.  It was 4 years and 2 days after Reed had picked off Jets running back Lamont Jordan (Herm Edwards: “No, that’s Ed Reed”) in the same end zone and returned the ball 103 yards for an apparent TD.  While that TD was called back for a hold, it nonetheless began a Ravens comeback that would culminate in a 20-17 OT win.  Scoring:  Lewis 5.


Phi 11/23/08


18.     Q2  1-10-BLT 24 (14:16) (Shotgun) D.McNabb sacked at BLT 32 for -8 yards (J.Johnson). FUMBLES (J.Johnson), RECOVERED by BLT-J.Johnson at BLT 30.  J.Johnson pushed ob at PHI 48 for 22 yards (J.Avant).


The Ravens brought a plain 4-man rush from the nickel.  Johnson lined up at LDE and beat LT Tra Thomas to the edge.  McNabb cocked, but Johnson tipped the ball loose from behind and into the air.  Johnson collected the ball from the air approximately 2 yards in front of McNabb.  JJ then turned upfield to the left sideline.  Ivy made a good block on McNabb, but he would have bought Johnson a few more yards had he peeled to take out Avant.  Scoring:  Johnson 18 (5 FF + 5 FR + 3 sack + 2 importance + 3 return), Ivy 2.


19.     Q2  3-1-PHI 17 (11:07) (No Huddle) D.McNabb pass deep right intended for D.Jackson INTERCEPTED by F.Washington at BLT 45. F.Washington to PHI 43 for 12 yards (D.Klecko).


The Ravens rushed 4 with both Suggs and JJ dropping to zone in a 4-DB set.  The blitz did not fool the Eagles, who picked it up well.  McNabb threw deep left for Desean Jackson who was singled by Washington.  Fabian wrestled the ball from Jackson and turned to return it to the Philly 43.  Reed and Johnson were in front of the return, but both failed to block Dan Klecko who made the tackle.  Scoring:  Washington 10 (5 + 2 return + 2 importance + 1 for wrestling the ball from Jackson).


20.  Q2  1-10-PHI 35 (2:53) D.McNabb pass short left intended for D.Jackson INTERCEPTED by E.Reed (A.Barnes) at PHI 49. E.Reed to PHI 6 for 43 yards. E.Reed pass incomplete short right to S.Rolle.

Penalty on BLT-E.Reed, Illegal Forward Pass, offsetting, enforced at PHI 6.

Penalty on PHI-J.Runyan, Unnecessary Roughness, offsetting.


The amazing run of Ed Reed starts here.  The Ravens failed to get pressure with a 5-man rush as Suggs dropped to cover.  McNabb stared down his receiver, Reed read his eyes and bolted to the sideline to make the pick.  Reed turned it up field, as usual looking to both score and lateral.  One of the qualities rarely appreciated in Reed is his ability to break tackles by “leaving a leg”, something Jim Brown was famous for (OK, there were a lot of reasons why Brown was famous, just like Reed).  Twice in this game he would break tackles by Westbrook in the same manner along the same sideline en route to 150 INT return yards.  After beating Westbrook, Reed attempted to lateral as he was hit by McNabb inside the Eagles 10.  Rolle can be seen clapping for the ball when several yards behind Reed, but either by the hit or carelessness, the ball popped forward and dropped to the ground where the Eagles covered it.  However, as an illegal forward pass and coupled with an offsetting Philadelphia penalty, the ball was declared dead and possessed by the Ravens at the 6-yard line.  The Ravens would score their first TD to take a 10-0 lead and McNabb would be benched at halftime.  Scoring:  Reed 12 (5 + 4 return – 1 penalty + 2 importance + 2 outstanding read/anticipation), Rolle 2, Douglas 2, Johnson 2, Ngata 2, Bannan 2, Scott 2, Lewis 1, Suggs 1.


21.  Q3  2-10-PHI 15 (2:24) (Shotgun) K.Kolb pass deep left intended for K.Curtis INTERCEPTED by S.Rolle at BLT 49.  S.Rolle to BLT 49 for no gain (K.Curtis).


The Ravens rushed 6 from the nickel, but the Eagles picked it up effectively.  Kolb threw deep left where Rolle had inside coverage on Curtis near midfield.  Rolle mistimed his leap, but the ball was underthrown and he came down with it anyway.  This was one of a number of near misses for Reed during his streak.  He was a little late getting over, but had Rolle tipped it, Reed had his eyes focused and hands well positioned to collect the ball. Rolle went down immediately.  Scoring:  Rolle 7 (5 + 2 importance).


22.  Q4  2-1-BLT 1 (7:44) K.Kolb pass short middle intended for D.Jackson INTERCEPTED by E.Reed at BLT -7. E.Reed for 107 yards, TOUCHDOWN.


The Eagles were driving for a TD that could have closed the gap to 1 score.  At the Ravens 1, the Eagles, who were remarkably unsuccessful in short yardage all season, attempted a QB sneak on 1st down, but failed.  On 2nd and goal, the Ravens set up in their 3-safety (no CB) goal line alignment.  Reed trailed Reggie Brown across the end zone from right to left.  Kolb ran play action, then looked left to Brown, but Reed jumped the route as Kolb released, collecting the ball effortlessly.  Reed quickly angled to the right sideline to outrun Kolb.  Westbrook had an apparently clean push to put Reed out of bounds, but was left clutching at Reed’s loose left arm as Ed first stiff-armed, then released.  Runyan made a diving attempt that came up a yard or more short.  Celek was then the last obstacle, but Reed cut back towards the middle of the field as he fell on his face.  Nakamura convoyed to Reed’s left as he neared the goal line and JT Smith was unable to catch up.  It was a highlight for the ages and showed preparation, deception, anticipation, sure-handedness, raw speed, strength and elusiveness.  In short, a little something of everything Ed Reed is as a defender.  Scoring: Reed 15 (5 INT, 5 TD return, 3 spectacular/athletic/historic, 2 importance), Leonhard 2, Suggs 1, Lewis 1, Nakamura 1.  This is one of several Reed plays that makes me want to extend the range of points for a spectacular play, but we’re not going to worry about that here because A) we consider that Reed’s game against the Eagles would have finished 2nd on the team (27 points) for the entire 1st half of the season and B) the primary reason for this analysis is not the scoring, but to examine the conditions, trends, and similarities in the takeaways.


Cin 11/30/08


23.  Q4  2-3-CIN 30 (2:40) J.Palmer pass short middle intended for R.Kelly INTERCEPTED by J.Leonhard at CIN 35.  J.Leonhard for 35 yards, TOUCHDOWN.


Jordan Palmer had just entered the game in relief of Fitzpatrick.  He had previously thrown 4 passes in his only previous NFL action in week 7 vs. the Steelers.  The Ravens lined up in the nickel and unforgivingly rushed all 6 big men on Carson’s jittery younger brother.  Palmer released for Kelley before his big tight end had even begun to turn and Leonhard easily hopped the route for the pick.  Kelly may have been the hot read, but he was the only short receiver that was not open.  Suggs leveled Kelly, Ngata convoyed, and Leonhard outraced Andrews and Palmer to the Pylon.  Scoring: Leonhard 10 (5 + 5 TD return), Suggs 2, Ngata 1.


The scoring through 12 games:







































While pressure was a factor in several of these sacks, only 2 of these 11 involved a 6-man or greater pass rush.  One pattern that emerged in the first 12 games was the high turnover rate in 7-DB schemes.  After registering 5 takeaways on just 36 snaps in the first 8 games, Ryan did not once put the quarter defense on the field in games 9-12.  I would say these 4 games were characterized by veteran reads.  Rolle’s INT, all 3 of Ray’s picks and both of Reed’s involved good anticipation of the throwing lane.  The 2 goal line INTs were both among the most important regular season takeaways.


Did you ever notice how there is never really a question of whether or not Reed will return a pick from his own end zone?  He was tackled for a touchback by Tory Holt 11/9/03 @ STL.  He’s otherwise returned all 5 of his end zone INTs for 59 (10/6/02, @ Cle), 106 (11/7/04, Cle), 78 (11/14/03 @NYJ), 107 (11/23/08 Phi), and 38 (12/28/08, Jax) yards respectively.  Of Reed’s 1,144 career INT return yards, 388 (34%) came on those 5 end zone returns.  By 2008, the Ravens defenders now know waving arms is futile and one simply must look for a block or lateral.  He’s still the only player I have ever seen return a punt (in the air) from his own end zone. 


Despite being at the top of the points chart, Reed still has just 3 INTs and a FF/FR.  His story is just starting.
Part III coming soon…

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Ken McKusick

About Ken McKusick

Known as “Filmstudy” from his handle on area message boards, Ken is a lifelong Baltimorean and rabid fan of Baltimore sports. He grew up within walking distance of Memorial Stadium and attended all but a handful of Orioles games from 1979 through 2001. He got his start in sports modeling with baseball in the mid 1980’s. He began writing about the Ravens in 2006 and maintains a library of video for every game the team has played. He’s a graduate of Syracuse with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Math who recently retired from his actuarial career to pursue his passion as a football analyst full time. If you have math or modeling questions related to sports or gambling, Ken is always interested in hearing new problems or ideas. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or followed on Twitter @filmstudyravens. More from Ken McKusick


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