Third Down A Pest For Ravens

Head Coach John Harbaugh said third down “was the difference in the game.”

Posted by Ryan Mink on Friday, November 12th, 2010 at 3:16 pm | Categories: 2010 Season, Ryan Mink, Week 10 at Falcons

With the way the Ravens played in the first half of Thursday night’s game, Head Coach John Harbaugh said he was pleased his team trailed by just 10 points at intermission.

That’s because the Ravens were far behind in time of possession and offensive plays, largely because of troubles on third down both defensively and offensively.

The Ravens defense surrendered a season-high 12 third-down conversions in 20 chances (60 percent) on the game. Offensively, Baltimore converted 1-of-4 attempts in the first half as Atlanta’s pass rush hurried quarterback Joe Flacco.

“I thought the difference was third down,” Harbaugh said. “In the first half especially, they converted their third downs. We didn’t. That contributed to the fact that they had a huge differential in plays.”

In the first half, the Falcons ran 43 plays compared to the Ravens’ 17. Atlanta owned time of possession 21:14 to 8:46.

The problem is somewhat surprising considering Baltimore’s defense came into Thursday’s game ranked 7th in the NFL in third down percentage.

Additionally odd is Atlanta’s success in third-and-long. In total, the Falcons went 6-for-10 in 3rd-and-more-than-5 situations, including picking three up via penalty.

It started with a 28-yard gain to wideout Roddy White on 3rd-and-17 on the Falcons’ first series. The biggest came on a 24-yard sideline completion to Michael Jenkins on 3rd-and-10 that sparked Atlanta’s game-winning march.

“It’s tough. You want to get off the field,” cornerback Chris Carr said. “Third down conversions are critical. They’re always a vital part of the game. It was just unfortunate we didn’t come up with enough stops on third down, but you have to tip your hat to them because they played well.”

Atlanta’s offense entered the game ranked 2nd in the NFL in converting on third downs with a 46.3 percent success rate.

Baltimore’s offense did improve on third down in the second half, going 5-of-7 to finish the game 6-of-11 (55 percent).

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