FILMSTUDY: Take it away!

Filmstudy FILMSTUDY: Take it away!

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The 2008 Ravens defense lived off pressure that reduced opposing QB effectiveness and playmaking that led to 43 takeaways in 19 games.  I did a similar piece on the 2006 Ravens and used a simple scoring system to add a little more interest and give some credit for blocking, hits, and tips which were a big part of those plays.  Here is the scoring system: 


Interception, forced fumble (FF), or fumble recovery (FR)


Tip or hit leading to an interception


Quarterback Hit (QH) leading to an interception


Extra points for a sack that is also a FF


Pressure leading to a fumble or interception

Subjective importance relative to the Ravens’ season


Subjective points awarded for a spectacular, athletic, or historic takeways


Making a lateral resulting in positive yardage

Making a block on a return


Accepting a lateral that results in positive yardage

Convoying (being set up to block) on a return


Nullifying a return by penalty


Per 5 yards of penalty


For each play I have shown the NFL Gamebook line.  These books are available to the public at and are an excellent source of information.  The Gamebook line contains the quarter, down, distance, field position, time, and a description of the play.


A few notes on some recurring terminology:

Standard: 4 DBs

Nickel: 5 DBs

Dime: 6 DBs

Quarter: 7 DBs


Here we go:

Ravens v. Bengals 9/7/08


1.      Q1 3-4-BLT 17 (5:29) C.Palmer pass short middle intended for C.Johnson INTERCEPTED by C.McAlister (E.Reed) at BLT 6. C.McAlister to BLT 22 for 16 yards (C.Palmer).


The Ravens set up in the nickel.  They rushed 5, but pressure was not a factor.  The pass went middle to Chatman (Gamebook is in error) but Reed got in the way as it arrived.  It popped in the air where McAlister snagged it and set off on a 16-yard return.  Blocks were thrown by Reed, Rolle, and JJ, with Rolle’s leveling of Johnson the best.  Lewis, Ivy, and Landry (looked for a lateral) convoyed.  The Ravens would drive for the season’s first score (on Clayton’s 42-yard run) to take the lead they would never relinquish.  While the game should have been much more one-sided on the scoreboard, I gave 2 importance points since the Ravens won by just 7 and this was a divisional game.  Scoring: McAlister 9 (5 for the INT, 2 for the return, 2 importance), Reed 6 (4 for the hit, 2 for the block), Rolle 2, Johnson 2, Lewis 1, Ivy 1, Landry 1.


2.     Q2  1-10-CIN 30 (2:48) C.Perry left tackle to CIN 35 for 5 yards. FUMBLES, RECOVERED by BLT-C.McAlister at CIN 40. C.McAlister to CIN 29 for 11 yards.

PENALTY on BLT-H.Ngata, Illegal Block Above the Waist, 10 yards, enforced at CIN 29.


The Ravens lined up with 4 DB’s despite 3 Bengals WRs on the field.  Perry ran through a hole and into level 2 where he was met and stripped by Ray Lewis.  The ball spun ahead 5 yards to the 40 where CMac alertly scooped it and returned it 11 yards up the left sideline.  I’m still calling this 2 importance points and splitting them.  Reed, Lewis, and Landry each threw a block on the return.  Unfortunately Ngata nullified the return with an illegal block.  Scoring:  Lewis 8 (FF + block + 1 importance), McAlister 8 (FR + 2 for the return + 1 importance), Reed 2, Landry 2, Ngata -3.


Ravens v. Browns 9/21/08


3.     Q3  3-3-CLV 17 (13:40) (Shotgun) D.Anderson pass short middle intended for K.Winslow INTERCEPTED by C.McAlister (R.Lewis) at CLV 24.  C.McAlister to CLV 12 for 12 yards (K.Shaffer).


The Ravens lined up with 4 DB’s this time facing a 4-wide shotgun from the Browns.  The Ravens rushed 5, but did not get to Anderson.  In one of the signature takeaways of the year, Anderson tried to force a pass over the middle and Lewis dropped a big hit on Winslow, causing the ball to pop up where it was vulched by CMac.  Chris returned the ball 12 yards through traffic to the 12 to set up the short field for the Ravens game-winning score.  Bart Scott threw 2 blocks on the return and Ngata threw another, but despite the traffic, no one else managed a contribution to the return.  Scoring:  CMac 7 (5 + 2 return + 2 importance), Lewis 6 (4 for the hit plus 2 spectacular), Scott 4, Ngata 2.


4.      Q3  3-6-CLV 22 (10:31) (Shotgun) D.Anderson pass short middle intended for S.Heiden INTERCEPTED by E.Reed at CLV 32. E.Reed for 32 yards, TOUCHDOWN. Ed Reed’s 4th career INT for TD. Reed’s 35th career INT.


The Browns again lined up 4 wide in the shotgun just 3 offensive plays later.  The Ravens countered with a quarter (7 DB) alignment and rushed just 3.  Anderson threw middle for Heiden, but Reed had anticipated the route and split Edwards and Wright to paydirt.  No other Raven had time to block on the return.  To add the memorable highlight flare, he ran several yards up the tunnel.  Amazingly, it was to be Reed’s only interception in the season’s first 10 games.  Scoring: Reed 14 (5 + 5 TD return + 2 importance + 2 for superb anticipation).


5.     Q4  1-10-CLV 4 (1:51) D.Anderson pass short left intended for B.Edwards INTERCEPTED by S.Rolle at CLV 7. S.Rolle to CLV 5 for 2 yards (B.Edwards).


With the game now in hand at 28-10, The Browns again lined up 4 wide against the Ravens dime.  The Ravens rushed just 3, but as Anderson attempted to force a slant to Edwards, Rolle slid by for the pick.  Anderson was clearly upset by Edwards’ lack of ability to box out the much smaller Rolle as the 2 jawed on the sideline.  In terms of their body language, I would describe Edwards as “defensively apologetic” and Anderson as “we’ll talk about this later”.  It was a clean pick, but I can’t award any importance or style points.  Scoring: Rolle 5.


Ravens @ Steelers 9/29/08


6.     Q1  1-10-PIT 44 (5:18) B.Roethlisberger pass short middle intended for H.Miller INTERCEPTED by H.Ngata at PIT 49. H.Ngata to PIT 48 for 1 yard (M.Spaeth, K.Simmons).


The Ravens rushed 5 from a 4-DB alignment, but did not put the determining pressure on Roethlisberger.  He pump-faked, but was unable to hold the ball as it floated to Ngata playing a short middle zone.  The Ravens were unable to set up a return.  My memory is a little fuzzy on this one, but I think Ben was quoted in the following week as saying “I was playing through a painful and debilitating connective tissue injury which reduced the effectiveness of the opposable thumb our species has spent so much time evolving.  Like my primate forefathers, however, I persevered and won the game for us in overtime.”  Scoring:  Ngata 7 (5 + 2 importance).


Ravens v. Titans 10/5/08


7.      Q1  1-10-BLT 34 (11:46) (Shotgun) K.Collins pass short middle INTERCEPTED by J.Bannan (H.Ngata) at BLT 38. J.Bannan to BLT 34 for -4 yards (K.Mawae).


The Ravens rushed 4 from a standard set with Ngata singled against Mawae.  Ngata did not get much penetration, but as Collins loaded, Haloti pushed Mawae back with his right arm and put his left high in the air to deflect Collins’ pass 4 yards into the backfield where Bannan made a very nice tip to himself.  Bannan attempted to loop out and return to his left, but was taken down at the 34.  Ngata made a very nice block as Bannan attempted to make some return yardage.  Scoring:  Bannan 8 (5 + 1 very nice hands + 1 importance), Ngata 6 (4 tip + 2 block), Johnson 2, Douglas 1.


8.     Q1  3-14-BLT 41 (4:00) (Shotgun) K.Collins pass deep middle intended for B.Jones INTERCEPTED by C.McAlister at BLT 22.  C.McAlister to BLT 22 for no gain (Ch.Davis).

PENALTY on BLT-T.Suggs, Unnecessary Roughness, 11 yards, enforced at BLT 22.


On 3rd and 14, the Ravens again loaded up with 7 DBs against a 3 WR set and rushed 4 with both Johnson and Lewis dropping from the LoS into coverage.  Collins stepped up to avoid pressure from Frank Walker and threw a laser for Jones, but CMac jumped the route for his 3rd pick of the year.  He was quickly taken down by Davis before a return could develop.  Suggs was called for unnecessary roughness after the change of possession.  Scoring: McAlister 6 (5 + 1 importance), Suggs -3 (yardage only since the penalty would not have nullified the return).


The Ravens did not register a takeaway in the game at Indianapolis on 10/12/08.


Ravens @ Dolphins 10/19/08


9.     Q2  3-5-MIA 45 (8:57) (Shotgun) C.Pennington pass short left intended for P.Cobbs INTERCEPTED by T.Suggs at MIA 44. T.Suggs for 44 yards, TOUCHDOWN.


The Ravens again lined up in the quarter and rushed 5 with Suggs dropping to coverage.  Ryan used these 7-DB alignments to tremendous effect in the early season with the coverage/pass rush flexibility of Leonhard, Zbikowski, Nakamura, Ivy, and Walker.  This time Leonhard blitzed from the offensive right side (ORS) and got pressure on Pennington who was able to escape to the left as Cobbs broke open over the middle.  Suggs closed on Cobbs and Pennington was slow to deliver the ball with Leonhard on his legs.  By the time Pennington did unload, Suggs had nearly overrun the play, but nonetheless collected the ball and streaked untouched for 6.  Walker and Barnes convoyed to ensure Cobbs did not get a clean path to Suggs.  This was the key play in the Ravens only win over a quality opponent in the 1st half, so I assigned 2 importance points.  Scoring:  Suggs 14 (5 + 5 TD return + 2 anticipation + 2 importance), Leonhard 3, Walker 1, Barnes 1.


Ravens v. Raiders 10/26/08


10.  Q2 1-10-OAK 46 (11:44) J.Russell pass deep right intended for J.Higgins INTERCEPTED by F.Walker at BLT 3. F.Walker ran ob at BLT 3 for no gain.


The Ravens rushed 4 from a standard set and did not generate pressure.  Russell fired deep right for Higgins who was singled up by Walker.  Frank was, however, 3-4 yards ahead of Higgins and looked like the receiver on the play.  The ball was taken by Walker at the 8 and he turned right and stepped out of bounds at the 3.  I’m not sure why the return was not -5, but the NFL may have impetus rules that set the mark for the point of return.  Given the score, no points are awarded for importance.  Scoring:  Walker 5.


Ravens @ Browns 11/2/08


11.   Q1  3-23-CLV 47 (6:20) (Shotgun) D.Anderson pass short right to S.Steptoe to BLT 47 for 6 yards (C.Ivy). FUMBLES (C.Ivy), RECOVERED by BLT-E.Oglesby at BLT 47. E.Oglesby to CLV 47 for 6 yards (S.Steptoe).


Again in the quarter, the Ravens rushed 5 but did not have time for pressure as Anderson threw right to Steptoe in the flat.  Ivy was first to get there and stripped Steptoe as he tackled him.  Oglesby cleanly scooped the ball and seemed to have a nice return opportunity up the left sideline (Reed and Walker were poised to convoy), but he tripped over Steptoe.  The Ravens did not use a single 7-DB alignment in the 2007 season.  To the best of my knowledge, they did not in 2006 either, although I can’t verify.  In 2000, they used 55 such sets under Mavin Lewis and with the physical depth at corner and safety it made a lot of sense in 2008.  Scoring:  Oglesby 7 (5 FR + 1 return + 1 importance), Ivy 6 (5 FF + 1 importance), Reed 1, Walker 1.


12.  Q4  3-8-CLV 46 (2:52) (Shotgun) D.Anderson pass short middle intended for J.Wright INTERCEPTED by T.Suggs [H.Ngata] at CLV 42. T.Suggs for 42 yards, TOUCHDOWN.


On 3rd and 8, the Ravens again brought on their 7-DB alignment and rushed just 2 as Suggs and Leonhard dropped off the LoS into coverage.  Ngata hammered Anderson forcing him to release for Wright before he had turned.  The pass hit Suggs mid-thigh and Ngata threw a bone-jarring block on Joe Thomas to eliminate any doubt.  Suggs open field run set off Kevin Harlan who exclaimed “this is the dagger, this is the dagger.”  It sealed the game and gave the Ravens a 5-3 record at mid season.  Most of the league knew this was an improved team, but few focused on the fact that The Ravens should have been 7-1.  Scoring:  Suggs 13 (5 + 5 TD + 3 importance), Ngata 5 (3 QH + 2 block).


To the midway point, Ryan’s quarter had contributed mightily to the Ravens’ success by generating 5 of the team’s 12 takeaways on just 36 7-DB plays.  Surprisingly, however, pressure itself played a role in just 1 of those first 12 turnovers. 


The scoring through 8 games:



































Despite no significant playing time after week 5, CMac still leads the team with 30 takeaway points.  Ngata is the dark horse with solid contributions to 3 different takeaways despite having only 1 pick personally.

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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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