Flacco Key To Red-Zone Success

The Ravens have been one of the NFL’s best teams at scoring red-zone touchdowns in recent games.

Posted by Garrett Downing on Tuesday, December 13th, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Categories: Garrett Downing, Week 14 vs Colts

The Baltimore Ravens had four trips inside the red zone in Sunday’s 24-10 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

Baltimore scored each time, coming away with 24 points.

How’s that for red-zone efficiency?

“You get down there, you give yourself a couple shots to get in the end zone and you execute,” quarterback Joe Flacco said. “We ran a couple simple plays.”

The Ravens used a handful of formations inside the 20-yard line and Flacco spread the ball around to find wide receiver Torrey Smith and tight end Dennis Pitta for touchdowns.

Flacco finished 4-of-5 on passes for 18 yards and two touchdowns inside the red zone, and Ray Rice also had a 6-yard rushing touchdown.

“The biggest thing probably was Joe,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said Monday when asked about the key to red-zone efficiency. “He was able to create some plays, and those are the kinds of things we’ve seen him do more and more throughout the course of this season, really even more than any other year.”

One of those plays came in the third quarter when Flacco scrambled out of the pocket to extend the play, and he then threw back across his body to Pitta who was wide open in the end zone.

“When everybody blocks well and executes their route and then reacts to me moving around back there, things just tend to work out,” Flacco said. “It was just execution.” 

Flacco has played a key role in a red-zone offense that has been one of the best in the NFL at scoring touchdowns in recent games. Over the last nine weeks, the Ravens have scored touchdowns in 57 percent (17/30) of their red-zone trips, which ranks in the top 10 in the NFL.

During the current four-game winning streak, the Ravens scored touchdowns on eight of their 14 trips inside the red zone.

“Joe has just done a great job of being aggressive but not greedy,” Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron said.

The Ravens rank 19th in the NFL in overall red-zone scoring percentage, but the stats are skewed from earlier in the season where Baltimore scored touchdowns on just 22 percent (2/9) of their red-zone possessions in Weeks 2-4.

Since then, the offense has turned it around.

“The difference has been we’ve run the ball better, and Joe has made some critical plays,” Cameron said. “And some of the best plays Joe has made are throwing the ball away.”

The Ravens’ goal, Cameron said, is to score touchdowns on 70 percent of their red-zone trips and get points on 100 percent of them.

“Basically what that means is you’re not turning the ball over,” Cameron said.

Flacco has committed just one turnover inside the red zone this season, coming in a Week 3 victory over St. Louis, and the Ravens have been successful at getting a minimum of three points once they get inside the 20-yard line.

On the season, the Ravens have come away with points on 91 percent of their trips inside the red zone, which ranks fourth best in the NFL. The Ravens have made it down within the 20-yard line 45 times this season, and only four times have they come away with nothing. 

“Joe understands that we want to score touchdowns, but worse-case scenarios, we need to get points,” Cameron said. “Joe has done a great job of not forcing the ball to the point we’re turning it over, and it fits into the whole team philosophy of keeping momentum.”

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