By Jeremy Hritz
We are only hours away from the first Steelers/Ravens matchup of the 2012 season, and the anticipation is out of control. While much of the attention this week has been on the quarterback position of the Steelers regarding the injury to Ben Roethlisberger and the subsequent anointing of Byron Leftwich as temporary starter, it cannot be ignored that Joe Flacco has played well against the Steelers in the previous two contests. Sunday Night’s game will mark the 11th time Flacco has lined up under center against the Steelers.
So what, if anything, stands out about Flacco’s performances against the Steelers? Let’s take a look at the statistics.
|11/6/2011||@ PIT||W 23-20||28||47||59.6||300||6.4||1||0||3||85.4|
|1/15/2011||@ PIT||L 24-31||16||30||53.3||125||4.2||1||1||5||61.1|
|10/3/2010||@ PIT||W 17-14||24||37||64.9||256||6.9||1||1||1||82.7|
|12/27/2009||@ PIT||L 20-23||13||25||52||166||6.6||2||1||4||83.1|
|1/18/2009||@ PIT||L 14-23||13||30||43.3||141||4.7||0||3||3||18.2|
|9/29/2008||@ PIT||L 20-23||16||31||51.6||192||6.2||1||0||5||81.7|
For starters, Flacco’s record against the Steelers in Pittsburgh is 2-4, while in Baltimore it is 2-2, combining for an overall record of 4-6 against the Steelers. What is worth noting is that three of those four victories have come in the last five games. Early in his career, Flacco was abysmal against the Steelers, so hopefully the recent wins are not indicative of a change in that trend. What is unique about Flacco’s history against the Steelers is that he has never won three consecutive games against them, and a win tonight would mark the first time he has done so.
It can also be argued that the more that Flacco throws the ball, the greater the chances for the Ravens to win. Consider that in three games when Flacco has thrown 35 or more passes, the Ravens have beaten the Steelers. When Flacco has less than 35 attempts, the Ravens are only 1-6.
Another aspect of Flacco’s game worth noting is the correlation between his completion percentage and the success of his team against the Steelers. Historically against the Steelers, Flacco averages a 53.9% completion percentage. In each of his wins against the Steelers, his completion percentage has been 58% or greater.
The same trend emerges with passing yardage, as when Flacco throws for more than 224 yards, the Ravens are 4-1. Passing attempts, completion percentage, and passing yardage are all numbers worth following during tonight’s contest.
What about the indicators of Flacco’s performance that could possibly point to a Steelers win?
Let’s start with the number of sacks. When the Steelers have sacked Flacco four or more times, they are 4-1 in those contests. This is a bit concerning being that the Steelers have struggled to get pressure this year. Additionally, when Flacco’s quarterback rating is 88 or below, the Steelers are 4-2.
Let’s close with a look at Flacco’s averages against the Steelers at Heinz Field:
At the end of the game, the Steelers would be happy if Flacco put this stat line in the books considering the talent that he has surrounding him. Having improved his game from the early days when the Steelers owned him, Flacco’s performance will strongly influence the Ravens chances to win. Despite his success in the last two games against the Steelers, Heinz Field has not been kind to Flacco.
Don’t look for it to be too nice again tonight