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The Ravens entered Sunday’s rough outing in Cincinnati as the NFL’s third-best squad at converting third downs.
What a difference a game makes.
Baltimore went from third-best (48.4 percent success rate) to seventh-best (44.8 percent) after moving the chains only one time on third down out of 10 tries against the Bengals.
And, that conversion didn’t come until the fourth quarter, when running back Ray Rice got 6 yards on a third-and-1 situation during the Ravens’ final drive of a 17-7 loss.
Head coach John Harbaugh said that while the Bengals did offer a variety of defenses, it wasn’t anything the Ravens hadn’t seen before.
“They mixed up coverages,” Harbaugh said after the game. “They do a good job of that. They mixed them up on third down, and they have a nice pressure package when they get you to third down, especially third-and-long.”
Defensively, Baltimore had also been dominant, stifling opposing offenses into a 33.0-percent conversion rate heading into the AFC North matchup.
The Ravens also dropped to seventh with a 34.9 percentage when Cincinnati went 8-of-18 (44 percent).
“Part of it is Carson Palmer, on the defensive side,” Harbaugh noted. “I thought he did a heck of a job of making some throws. There were a couple of throws and catches in there that were pretty special, under pressure. Those are the ones that we can live with, you know, the ones where we’ve got a guy running, he gets hit, he makes a throw high on the sideline, someone goes up and gets it, it’s well defended, and they make a play.
“You’re going to have some of those. Some of the other ones, we need to figure out, whether it’s pressure, whether it’s coverage, whatever the case may be. Each one of them was different.”