Ravens must protect the ball in Foxboro

ricestretch

If you need evidence of how important it is to protect the football, look no further than Peyton Manning, who found himself on the losing end of a double-overtime thriller to the Ravens on Saturday.

Manning’s miscues – a fumble and two interceptions – allowed the Ravens to capitalize and advance to their second consecutive AFC Championship game, where a familiar opponent will greet them.

Looking at the stats, it may not seem that the Ravens offense has had more success this season than they did in 2011. However, with the recent change in offensive coordinator from Cam Cameron to Jim Caldwell, the Ravens are a far better team than they appear on paper.

The same can be said for the Patriots defense.

Now, the Patriots defense is far from pretty on paper, ranking 25th overall. They had the 29th ranked pass defense, allowing an average of 373.2 yards per game. However, despite giving up large chunks of yards, they were ninth in the league in scoring defense, allowing 20.7 points per game.

So how do they do it?

Turnovers.

The Chicago Bears led the NFL with 44 takeaways this season, but the Patriots were second best with 41. To put in perspective how impressive that mark is, the Cincinnati Bengals were the second-best team in the AFC and only had 30 takeaways.

Of course, the talking heads will drone on and on this week about how Joe Flacco is a liability who hurts his team with costly turnovers.

Which couldn’t be further from the truth.

In his previous four playoff games dating back to last season, Flacco has thrown for nine touchdowns and has only been intercepted once. So far this postseason, Flacco has yet to be intercepted and has thrown for five touchdowns.

Flacco has been showing confidence in his arm strength and receivers by taking numerous deep downfield shots. And he’s been having plenty of success doing so. After his performance against Denver and perennial Pro Bowler Champ Bailey, Flacco’s confidence may be at an all-time high. Second-year receiver Torrey Smith had three catches for 97 yards and two scores at Mile High, and veteran Anquan Boldin caught four passes greater than 20 yards last week when the Ravens beat the Colts to open the playoffs.

On the ground, the Patriots were better, boasting the ninth-best defense against the run. Defensive tackle Vince Wilfork is a major reason why the Patriots have defended the run well, but the Ravens should be encouraged after running back Ray Rice rushed for 131 yards on 30 carries against the Broncos, who came in as the league’s 3rd best rush defense.

After fumbling twice during the Wild Card round against the Colts, some were worried that Rice had a serious case of fumblitis. However, he eased those fears in Denver, touching the ball a total of 32 times without fumbling in single digit temperatures.

Judging by the stats, it appears as if the Ravens offense should have a field day against the Patriots, but nothing changes the momentum in a game more than turnovers.

To continue their run to New Orleans, the Ravens will have to continue to be stingy with the football, and make sure that yards turn into points against New England.

This entry was posted in Blog View, Featured by Kris Jones. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kris Jones

Kris Jones
Kris - or "Goob" as he's widely known - has turned an obsession into a career. As a media member by day and super fan by night, he reports from the Under Armour Performance Center twice per week and brings Ravens news from a fan's perspective. His popular YouTube series...more

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

 

Hot off the street

RAVENS 22, SAINTS 13: 5 Good, 5 Bad Takeaways

Although the scoreboard tells a different story, the Baltimore Ravens reserves absolutely dominated the New Orleans Saints last night in the Superdome. There’s a social media phenomenon called Th...read more

Ravens at Saints: What we Looked For, What we Saw

Heading into the Ravens final preseason game we chronicled five things to look for as the Ravens closed out their preseason schedule last night in New Orleans. Here’s a look at how those things p...read more

Who’s In?: Final 53-Man Roster Projection

The Ravens wrapped up their preseason with a perfect 4-0 record by defeating the Saints 22-13 on Thursday night. More importantly than the win in the preseason finale were the players who were figh...read more

KNEE-JERK REACTIONS: Ravens Run Over Saints 22-13

Ravens had success running the football in their preseason finale. Taliaferro along with Toussaint were used as workhorses and showed they were up to the task. The wide receiver competition came down ...read more

Things Just Got Worse For Ray Rice

Roger Goodell clearly misunderstood the potential outcry following the two-game suspension given to Ray Rice. I’ve argued that he could have more emphatically stated to the public why he was so leni...read more

View More