The Bucs were exactly what the Ravens didn’t want at this point in the season. They’re a young physical team that played rough with the Ravens and administered a potentially serious set of injuries going into the biggest game of the year.
The Ravens’ run defense was again ineffective against a bigger back, but made up for it with economical pressure of Josh Freeman who completed just 1 pass of 20+ yards.
On to the statistics, which are based on 59 defensive snaps (excludes 1 kneel) with no sacks or turnovers to report:
Vs. the Run: 22 plays, 102 yards, 4.6 YPC
Vs. the Pass: 37 plays, 162 yards, 4.4 YPP
Overall: 59 plays, 264 yards, 4.5 YPPA
By number of defensive backs
Short Yardage (3 DBs): None
Standard (4 DBs): 29/135, 4.7 YPPA
Nickel (5 DBs): 22/103, 4.7 YPPA
Dime (6 DBs): 8/26, 3.3 YPPA
By number of pass rushers
3: 2/0, 0.0 YPP
4: 27/117 4.3 YPP
5: 6/45, 7.5 YPP
6: 2/0, 0.0 YPP
Arthur Jones played his first 6 NFL snaps. Here is how I saw them:
· (Q2, 13:54): Jones lined up at LDT. Arthur was blocked by RG Jeremy Zuttah, then shed (remained standing) as the Bucs guard went out to block for the screen left. The play went for 9 yards.
· (Q2, 13:15): Lined up at LDE. Arthur was blocked straight up by the RT James Lee. Blount ran into the back of Lee, then bounced off right for a gain of 4.
· (Q2, 12:34): Lined up at LDT. He was again blocked effectively by Zuttah, then the center Faine. Jones was driven back to the right numbers as Blount ran right for 3 yards.
· (Q2, 11:51): Lined up at LDT. Jones was pushed to the ground by Zuttah as Freeman rolled left and threw the near interception to Reed.
· (Q3, 3:13): Lined up at LDE. Arthur was slow out of his stance, was blocked effectively by Zuttah and Lee, but did manage to swipe at Freeman as he rolled right and threw incomplete. Ngata registered a QH on the play.
· (Q3, 3:08): Lined up at LDE. Was blocked straight ahead by RT Lee as Blount ran just to the right of Lee for 8 yards.
Let’s hope it’s not the game we’ll remember for Jones. The players blocking him, Zuttah and Lee are both backups.
· Along the rest of the defensive line, Redding and Ngata played 51 and 48 snaps respectively. Gregg played just 22 snaps, Kruger 11, and Cody 7.
· Most of the Bucs success running the ball came to the right side and away from Haloti Ngata.
· Ed Reed has always been a streaky player, but this effort against Freeman has to be the weirdest stat line of his career. He did not have a single tackle, fumble, interception, QH, but was credited with 5 PDs. What’s more amazing is that those 5 came on a stretch of 8 pass plays on consecutive drives in the 2nd quarter. I would call some of those PDs generous, but he was around the football regularly.
· The Ravens’ pass rush was effective at keeping Freeman on the move despite rushing 4 or less on 29 of 37 pass plays. Freeman had ample time and space (ATS) on 16 of his 37 passes (43%) which is OK, but he completed just 6 of those for 85 yards (5.3 YPP). Without ATS, he was 11 of 21 for 77 yards (3.7 YPP) with his only TD. I scored the Ravens for 4 deceptive blitzes, but most of the afternoon and early evening was a simple 4-man rush. The success was partly a function of the Ravens winning some 1-on-1 matchups, but I’d place more of the responsibility on the Buccaneers playing Larsen, their backup center, at LG along with Zuttah at RG, and Lee at RT.
· On Sunday the Ravens will face a decimated Steelers line and a quarterback who may have some lost mobility. It’s imperative that the Ravens stop the run effectively to force Roethlisberger into unfavorable down and distance situations. Those will be most effective if the crowd can shut down the no huddle.
· Hamlin was again active over Ellerbe/McKinney and played 6 of the Ravens 8 dime snaps. Washington was also inactive.
· Cary Williams got on the field for his first defensive snap of 2010, replacing Carr for 1 play (Q3, 2:28). The Ravens would hold the Bucs on 3rd down on the reversed Redding interception and Carr returned to the field for the next series. I have not heard whether it was an equipment problem or a minor injury.
· The Buccaneers’ late TD drive took 13 plays and 4:38 to travel 77 yards. A late drive with no huddle shouldn’t take that long, but the Ravens were helped by the fact that the Bucs had to run for a 1st down on 3 consecutive 3rd and 1 attempts. On the first, Freeman was enveloped on a play that took some time to un-stack the pile. The net gain was perhaps a minute less of game clock for the Ravens to manage.
Biggest 3 defensive plays
· Reed’s PD intended for Winslow (Q2, 4:40). This held the Bucs to a FG and kept the game tied at 3 before the Ravens exploded for 2 scores.
· Redding’s near interception (Q3, 2:28). It should have led to a game sealing score, but the Ravens nonetheless got the Tampa Bay offense off the field deep in their own territory.
· Freeman’s incomplete pass to Williams (Q3, 10:44). The Buccaneers’ drive stalled on 3rd and 2 at the Baltimore 44. Redding forced Freeman to throw on the run and Gooden had decent coverage on Williams. It was a little surprising to see Tampa Bay punt.