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Ravens' Tale Of Two Red Zones


A lot of NFL games are won and lost in the red zone.

Can you keep teams out of the end zone? Can you get in there yourself?

The Ravens have been split in that arena.

Baltimore's defense ranks second in the NFL in touchdown percentage once teams get inside the 20-yard line. The Ravens have surrendered touchdowns just 26.3 percent of the time, only trailing Kansas City (22.5 percent) and well ahead of third-place Carolina (35.7 percent).

Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees pointed to three main factors as to why the Ravens are good in the red zone.

First, he feels like they have a very complex red zone defensive package. Second, teams have less space to work, so the defense doesn't have to worry about big plays. Third, he sees confidence from his players when their backs are against the wall.

"I think our guys aren't afraid of the red zone," Pees said. "I think some teams get down there and are kind of like, 'Oh man, what are we going to do?' I don't think we have that mentality at all."

However, the picture isn't so bright on the offensive side of the ball, particularly recently.

There, the Ravens rank 16th in the NFL in touchdown percentage in the red zone. They're putting the ball in the end zone 52.2 percent of the time. Denver leads the league (78.8 percent).

The problem cropped up Sunday in Pittsburgh.

On the Ravens' second offensive possession, they churned yards to the Pittsburgh 27. But they couldn't gain one yard in their jumbo running formation to convert on third down. On the brink of the red zone, they kicked a 46-yard field goal.

Following a defensive turnover at the end of the first half, the Ravens got to the Pittsburgh 20. Pressure on quarterback Joe Flacco led to an incomplete pass to Jacoby Jones and a 38-yard field goal.

The Ravens got inside the 20 at the start of the fourth quarter, trailing by a touchdown. On third down, Flacco evaded major pressure long enough to try to squeeze a pass to Tandon Doss, but it went incomplete. Flacco didn't see Jones open in the back of the end zone.

Baltimore didn't put the ball in the end zone until its final drive, in which Flacco found tight end Dallas Clark open on a play-action roll out pass for a 1-yard score.

So on four of the Ravens' seven possessions, they got near or inside the red zone. They scored 13 points on those trips.

"We moved the ball pretty well," Flacco said. "I thought once we got in the red zone we got shut down a little bit. … When you get a game like that where you have so few possessions you have to make them all count. We weren't able to get in the end zone enough."

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