In my 7 things to watch article this past Saturday I noted that the Steelers would be best served to keep Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco in as many 3rd down and long situations as possible, preferably 3rd and 6 or more based on the numbers he has put up this year. Entering the game last night, Flacco had just a 43.1% completion ratio on 3rd downs this season and an even lower 40.0% completion ratio on 3rd down and 6 or more.
As it turned out last night, Flacco was put in 3rd and 6 or more 10 times and he completed 8 of 10 passes with all 8 completions producing first downs. The last completion of course was the game-winning touchdown pass to wide receiver Torrey Smith with 8 seconds left in the game.
Despite the lack of success that Flacco has had on 3rd and long this year as a whole, he has now managed to put up good numbers against the Steelers in that situation in both meetings this season. Back in week 1 he was 6 of 8 on 3rd downs and 6 or more with 4 of the 6 producing first downs. That makes a two game stat line against the Steelers this year of 14 for 18 with 12 of the 14 producing a first down or touchdown. His 219 yards passing in those situations equates to a 12.2 yards per attempt.
If you take away the two games against the Steelers this season, Flacco is a lousy 14 of 42 when faced with 3rd down and 6 or more according to the stats I compiled. That equates to a lowly 33.3% completion ratio versus a 77.8% completion percentage against the Steelers. Talk about night and day. So how did other quarterbacks do in the same situation thus far this year against the Steelers defense? Try 23 of 39 for 210 yards. Only 12 of the 23 completions produced a first down with just one of those being a touchdown. That is a 59% completion ratio for a 5.4 yards per attempt.
Flacco might be an average 3rd and long quarterback against other teams, but when it comes to the Steelers this year, he is no average 3rd down and long Joe. Should the Steelers get a 3rd crack at the Ravens this season in the play-offs, this is an area that needs to improve drastically.