FILMSTUDY: Not quite good enough…this time

Filmstudy FILMSTUDY: Not quite good enough…this time

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9/29/08 vs. Steelers


It’s rare that you see a game where the losing team is actually in better shape when the game is over than when it began.  That appears to have happened on Monday night.  The Steelers went in as 5 point favorites which (if you believe the wagering approximates reality) meant they had approximately a 70% chance to win.  The Ravens lost, so they lost the chance to take the lead on an important tie breaker, but they proved without question they can play with the Steelers on the road.  Meanwhile, the Steelers lost 2 players (Mendenhall and Simmons) for the year, each of whom will be replaced with less talented subs.


I’ll spare you the details here, but I have a post I am updating each week throughout the year with win expectation:




So after this game, I still have the Ravens at 9.2 expected wins for the year and I would translate that expectation to perhaps a 30-35% chance to win the division.  On to the defensive stats for this week:


Overall: 54 plays, 238 yards, 4.4 YPPA (excludes 1 kneel)

Best:  Bannan 28/106, 3.8 YPPA, Barnes 11/27, 2.5 YPPA

Worst:  Ivy 24/132, 5.5 YPPA


Vs. the Run:  27 carries, 70 yards, 2.6 YPC

Douglas 12/22, 1.8 YPC, Bannan 17/38, 2.2 YPC

Worst:  Ivy 9/32, 3.6 YPC (again pretty damn good for the worst)


Vs. the Pass:  27 pass plays, 168 net yards, 6.2 YPP

Best:  Pryce 22 plays, 100 yards, 4.5 YPP

Douglas 5/68, 13.6 YPP, Ivy 15/100, 6.7 YPP


By number of Pass Rushers:

3:  1/0, 0 YPP

4:  14/58 4.1 YPP, 2 sacks

5:  9/57, 6.3 YPP, 1 TO, 1 sack

6:  2/4, 2.0 YPP


By number of Defensive Backs:

3:  1 plays, 0 yards, 0 YPPA

4:  30 plays, 106 yards, 3.5 YPPA, 1 sack, 1 TO

5:  21 plays, 102 yards, 4.9 YPPA, 2 sacks

6:  3 plays, 11 yards, 3.7 YPPA

7:  1 play, 19 yards, 19 YPPA


Individual notes:

·      The bad penalties were one of the stories.  Johnson PF was costly, but earlier offsetting PF’s nullified a false start that left it 3/2 instead of 3/7.  That drive ended in a FG that put the Steelers up 3-0.

·      The Ravens had at least 2 odd coaching decisions.  Obviously failing to challenge on Mason’s apparent TD grab was one.  I also did not like the decision to punt on 4th and 4 at the Steelers 36 [Q3, 10:13].

·      The Ravens sported a 4 LB (excludes Suggs) look on a number of passing downs.  In addition they played a single set with 5 LB’s (Q3 8:05) on which Tavares Gooden played his first NFL snap

·      After Mendenhall’s injury, the Steelers ran the spread on 3rd and less than 1.  That showed me tremendous respect for the Ravens run defense.

·      Ray Lewis had an excellent game.  He plugged gaps as well as we have seen in some time, got the drive-ending pass deflection on the Steelers last drive in regulation, made the final goal line stop on Moore to keep the game within a TD (Q4, 10:09) and without malice or intent, put the season-ending hit on Mendenhall (Q3, 14:54).  It was one of the 3 greatest games he has played since the best 2-game stretch of his career in the 3rd and 4th games of 2002.


was the Ravens defensive goat.  He lost the coverage on Holmes on his 38-yard TD catch.  The announcers made it sound like he “went for the interception and missed”, but a more accurate description would be that he “dove in a desperate attempt to deflect the ball when he was badly beaten.”  Reed’s missed tackle did not help.  If you review the play where JJ was penalized, you’ll see Nate Washington slips by Fabian’s missed tackle for another 8-10 yards.  Had that tackle been made, the penalty might have been avoided.

·      CMac also did not look like himself.  The Steelers had 2 significant gains when he was in press coverage.  Each time he failed to disrupt the route with a bump, the 2nd of which was Ward’s 49-yard catch in Q4 (CMac fell down on the play and Ward was all alone).

·      Roethlisberger audibled to a QB sneak with Ngata set up several yards off the LoS (Q3, 4:54) on 2nd and 8.  While Ngata moved up before the snap, he never got set in a position where he could maintain his gap and he was pushed aside as Ben gained 4 yards.

·      On the goal line stand which kept the Ravens in the game in Q4, Ben Grubbs got his first 2 career snaps on defense.  These occurred on 1st and Goal from the 4 and again on 3rd and goal from the 1.  Interestingly, he replaced Pryce along the defensive front.  On the first play, Roethlisberger rolled right and Grubbs submarined, then got up and followed Ben.  Roethlisberger was forced to throw the ball away.  On the 3rd down play, Grubbs stood up RG Stapleton and as

looped right of Grubbs and a penetrating Ngata, Lewis slid through to make the tackle.

·      Ngata was dropped in to coverage 4 times in the game.  The interception came on such a play, but he was also juked by

for the 24-yard pass play that set up the winning FG.

·      Zbikowski played 5 snaps (7 yards).  He was used both as a dime defender and also in the Ravens 3-safety goal line set.  He is used as a pass rusher more often than not.  Nakamura saw 1 play in the Ravens 7 DB set, where he was used in a deep cover 2 (play gained 19 yards)..

·      The Ravens still have not brought 7-man pressure for any play this year.  Although they showed it several times Monday night, they had either 1 or 2 drop to coverage each time.

FINAL NOTE…GOOD THINGS TO COME?: For the season now, the Ravens have sacked the QB 5 times in just 36 4-man rushes (14%) and held their opponents to 2.4 YPP in such situations.  Subjectively, there are lots of reasons to believe this Ravens team is much improved, but the single greatest objective indicator we have that the 2008 Ravens should be good is their success with a 4-man rush.  Teams that can apply good pressure with a 4-man rush are almost universally successful.
Photo by Sabina Moran.

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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.

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