Crowd Keys Magical Win

The Bank has been loud this season, but Sunday was a new peak for ringing ears.

Despite a stadium with lots of empty seats, crowd noise contributed to 2 Rams false starts (1 stalled drive) and an enormous delay-of-game flag in overtime.  On the delay of game, it was clear center Coleman Shelton could not hear the signals (or Stafford’s desperate clapping) and RG Kevin Dotson was late tapping him to trigger the snap.

Recalling the noise at the half-empty, 2003 comeback vs Seattle, I think there may be some physics as to why a partially empty stadium may conduct noise better.

37-31

In the long history of the NFL, 30 games have been decided by a 37-31 score, including 16 overtime games.  However, the score has a special significance to fans of both the Rams and Baltimore football.  Let’s review:

  • The Rams are 2-5 in such games, the most total decisions and losses by any franchise
  • The Ravens have twice beaten the Rams 37-31 in OT in Baltimore (1996. 2023)
  • The Colts lost the “Ghost to the Post” game to the Raiders on 12/24/77 in double OT

Difficulty Defending the Pass with Lack of Pressure

Forecasts of a combination of wind and rain led many to believe this would be a game dominated by defense.  However, a slippery field, modest winds, and tolerable amounts of rain led to good passing results for both teams.

Neither team generated much pressure and both surrendered frequent ATS.  Double moves were effective and receivers had time to execute them with extended play times.

The Ravens will face Lawrence, Purdy, and Tagovailoa over the next 3 weeks (not to mention more good playoff QBs), but I don’t think the results of this game should be a direct cause of concern (there are other reasons, such as Hamilton’s injury) that the Ravens cannot be effective vs good QBs since the weather conditions so heavily favored the offense.

Packages

Note: all snap totals exclude penalties resulting in no play, kneels, spikes, and specials team plays resulting in a run or pass.  As such, they will be lower than other published totals.

The Rams ran 72 such snaps.

Base (8): The Ravens used their 4-DB/3-DL package just 8 times, all on 1st down.  Each such alignment included Van Noy at OLB paired with Robinson.  Stafford looked to pass when he saw this personnel group.  These included 1 run for 2 yards and 7 passes for 38.  8 plays, 40 yards, 5.0 YPP.

Standard Nickel (19): The Ravens used their standard nickel as the primary response to the Rams 11 personnel packages when Hamilton was not available.  The Ravens played Maulet at SCB on each such snap.  These plays included 3 runs for 9 yards and 16 pass plays for 141 net yards.  19 plays, 150 yards, 7.9 YPP.

Big Nickel (26):  The Ravens used the big nickel as their primary response to 11 and 12 personnel while Hamilton was available.  Each big nickel snap included Hamilton at SCB and Stone at SS.  These plays included 13 runs for 160 and 13 pass plays for 67 yards.  26 plays, 127 yards, 4.9 YPP, 2 sacks.

Uncovered Nickel (17): The Ravens used their uncovered nickel with Urban as the edge, only 1 OLB, and 5 DBs as an alternative to base defense, primarily on early downs.  These plays included 12 runs for 59 and 5 pass plays for 48 net yards.  17 plays, 107 yards, 6.3 YPP.

Rush Nickel (1): The Ravens used their rush nickel with 3 OLB and just 1 DL for the final play of the first Rams drive.  It featured Clowney, Oweh, and Van Noy rushing the QB with Madubuike.  In this instance, Hamilton was at SCB, so this could alternatively be defined as a big nickel snap.  The pass was incomplete.  1 play, 0 yards.

Dime (1): On the final defensive snap of regulation, the Ravens lined up with 6 DBs for only the 6th time this season.  Worley was added as the 3rd safety since Hamilton was sidelined.  The pass was incomplete in the end zone and the Rams subsequently kicked the game-tying field goal.  1 play, 0 yards.

Pass Rush

Macdonald used a 5th pass rusher on 10 of 43 plays (23%) resulting in a pass or sack and complemented that with a smattering of deceptive elements to generate pressure on a difficult surface.

For the game, Stafford had ATS on 18 of 43 drop backs (42%), the highest rate the Ravens have allowed all season.  On those 18 plays, the Rams averaged only 6.3 YPP and took 2 late sacks.  He also delivered the ball before pressure could develop (BOQ) 10 times (23%, 7.7 YPP).  The Ravens generated a pressure event on 15 plays (35%), on which Stafford was not sacked and threw for 6.1 YPP. 

Summarizing by number of pass rushers:

3 or fewer: 1 play, 0 yards

4: 32 plays, 212 yards, 6.6 YPP, 2 sacks

5: 8 plays, 36 yards, 4.5 YPP

6+: 2 plays, 34 yards, 17.0 YPP

Total:  43 plays, 282 yards, 6.6 YPP, 2 sacks

Macdonald dialed up 8 individual blitzes over 5 plays (.19 per pass play) from off the LoS, 3 doubles and 2 singles.  On those 5 plays, the Rams gained 55 yards (11.0 YPP).

The Ravens stunted 16 times among 11 plays.  Those plays resulted in 105 net yards (9.5 YPP) with 1 sacks and no turnovers. 

The Ravens used simulated pressure 4 times resulting in 6 net yards (1.5 YPP) with 2 or more dropping from the line of scrimmage.

I define a deceptive pass rush as incorporating 2 or more of the above elements (off ball blitzes, stunts, and simulated pressures).  The Ravens schemed a season-high 9 such plays on which LA gained 103 yards (11.6 YPP).

In words, Stafford was not required to rely on a high percentage of plays where he got the ball out quickly, because his protection held up well, particularly in the first half.  When the Ravens moved to more scheme and deception in the second half, Stafford dealt with it effectively, particularly during the Rams go-ahead and game-tying drives in the fourth quarter.

Madubuike led the team with 5 pressures, all of which were QHs and included a late sack.  He had another pressure negated by penalty.  Jones had a late sack and a late QH.  Van Noy had 2 pressures and a PD at the LoS.

Star Treatment

Kyle Hamilton

  • (Q1, 11:03):  He maneuvered around WR Nacua to lose the right edge on RB Williams RM10
  • (Q1, 8:17):  He was blocked by WR Kupp on Nacua jet sweep RR6
  • (Q1, 6:38):  He was blocked by Kupp on Williams RM11
  • (Q1, 5:47):  He had tight coverage of Nacua 13 yards [5] as Stafford threw incomplete
  • (Q1, 3:30):  He made a fast, downhill tackle of Nacua PR4 (4 + 0) [4]
  • (Q2, 8:14):  He drove back Kupp for assist of Van Noy on PL-2 (-3 + 1) [2]
  • (Q2, 5:53):  On 2nd/10, he was flagged for a 15-yard DPI on shirt grab of Nacua
  • (Q2, 1:55):  On 3rd/5, he had step-for-step coverage of WR Robinson as Stafford overthrew OOB
  • (Q3, 10:02):  He beat Robinson inside to clean up Williams RR-2 off initial bubble by Clowney

Kyle’s injury is the dark cloud over a big win.  The Ravens allowed just 4.1 YPP when he was in but 7.7 YPP when he was not.

Kyle Van Noy

  • (Q1, 6:38):  He was blocked by pulling TE Long on Williams RM11
  • (Q2, 8:14):  He followed up on Smith’s initial spin for tackle of WR Kupp PL-2 (-3 + 1) [2] with assist Hamilton
  • (Q2, 5:59):  He was slow to rush on naked boot left as Stafford’s pass for WR Atwell was deflected by Williams 20 yards [1]
  • (Q3, 3:06):  He beat the block of RT Noteboom to tackle Williams PR-8 (-8 + 0) [5] to force punt
  • (Q4, 11:17):  He deflected Stafford’s pass at the LoS which appeared as a concentration drop for Nacua 18 yards [3]
  • (Q4, 4:47):  He beat RT Noteboom inside for fast pressure as Stafford threw PR5 TD to Robinson
  • (OT, 8:11):  On 3rd/9, he spun by LG Avila inside for fast pressure as Stafford’s pass to TE Allen was dropped 2 yards [3] to force punt

Kyle had an early-down, run-defense role (paired with Robinson) but was nonetheless party to 2 drive-ending plays.

Roquan Smith

  • (Q1, 11:03):  He was blocked by RT Havenstein as part of Williams RM10
  • (Q1, 9:42):  He was blocked by LG Avila in L2 on Williams RR9
  • (Q1, 6:38):  He was blocked by LT Jackson in L2 to lead Williams RM11
  • (Q1, 5:42):  On 3rd/9, he penetrated through left B-gap unblocked for fast QH as Stafford threw incomplete to force FG attempt
  • (Q2, 8:14):  On 3rd/3, he arrived first on WR Kupp and spun him while missing the tackle that was cleaned up by Van Noy and Hamilton for PL-2
  • (Q2, 7:20):  He was blocked by RT Noteboom in L2 on Williams RM6
  • (Q2, 5:06):  He was blocked by C Shelton on PR7 TD to TE Allen and flagged for a facemask on the play
  • (Q2, 2:54):  On 3rd/15, Stafford threw to TE Allen PM18 (4 + 14) [3] who hurdled over Humphrey and Smith to convert
  • (Q3, 14:23):  On 3rd/17, he was initially blocked by Shelton but made the tackle on Williams RM11 to force punt
  • (Q3, 8:09):  He followed up the miss by Oweh to tackle Williams RL-3
  • (Q3, 7:26):  On 3rd/11, he and Stephens combined to tackle Williams PR9 (-3 + 12) [4] to force punt
  • (Q3, 5:05):  On 3rd/4, he beat RB Williams through the right A-gap for pressure as Stafford threw PR32 to Kupp
  • (Q3, 3:55):  On 2nd/6, he penetrated through right A-gap to tackle Williams RR-1
  • (Q4, 7:22):  He was blocked by RT Noteboom on Williams RM14
  • (Q4, 6:37):  Stafford completed PM21 (14 + 7) [3] to TE Allen over Smith
  • (Q4, 4:52):  He chased Stafford for late pressure as he overthrew Nacua/Robinson in end zone
  • (Q4, 0:44):  He assisted on Stone’s tackle of TE Allen PR4 (-2 + 6) [4] which burned 22 seconds off the clock

The Rams planned to get a helmet on Roquan on most run plays, but he came back to lead the Ravens in tackles with 10, including 5 defensive wins and 3 drive-ending plays.

Justin Madubuike

  • (Q1, 9:42):  He was blocked by LT Jackson on Williams RR9
  • (Q1, 5:47):  On 2nd/9, he bulled RG Dotson into Stafford for QH as he overthrew Nacua in end zone
  • (Q1, 2:45):  On 3rd/6, he worked off initial late pressure from Oweh for cleanup S-8
  • (Q2, 4:46):  He was blocked by RT Noteboom on Williams RR8
  • (Q3, 14:29):  He stunted past RT Noteboom outside for QH as Stafford overthrew Robinson 15 yards [5]
  • (Q3, 14:23):  On 3rd/17, he was blocked by RG Dotson as part of Williams RM11
  • (Q3, 9:00):  On 3rd/16, he bulled C Shelton for pressure as Stafford threw incomplete for Nacua but was bailed out by ticky-tack DPI Humphrey
  • (Q4, 5:57):  He bulled then shed RG Dotson outside for QH as Stafford threw PR23 to Nacua
  • (Q4, 1:16):  He beat LG Avila for QH as Stafford threw incomplete for Nacua 16 yards [3]

Justin has now had at least half a sack in 10 consecutive games and continues to lead all NFL IDL with 11 sacks among 26 QHs.

Defensive MVPs

  1. Justin Madubuike
  2. Roquan Smith
  3. Kyle Van Noy

Honorable mention to Kyle Hamilton, Travis Jones, and Brent Urban