In the 2011 regular season our pass defense was the 17th rated pass defense in the league. That is a substantial improvement.
Even though the ranking of our pass defense improved substantially not all was positive; we had 9 fewer interceptions and 4 fewer sacks. The passer rating of opposing quarterbacks went up from 73 to 78. But, despite these shortcomings, our pass defense improved markedly.
We had minor, perhaps insignificant, gains in yards allowed, yards per game, average per reception, and touchdown. The percentage of plays that produced 1st downs went down by 1.4% from 32.8% to 31.4%.
In other aspects of pass defense, the team made significant advances.
In 2011, we gave up 60 big passing plays. In 2012, we gave up 35 big passing plays.
The number of passing plays of 20+ yards that we gave up went from 48 to 38.
The number of passing plays of 40+ yards dropped from 12 to 7.
In total, we gave up 15 fewer big passing plays in 2012; a 41.7% drop.
The number of passing plays that went for 1ST downs decreased from 190 to 178 (-12).
In 2011, we gave up 3.75 big passing plays per game; in 2012, 2.19.
The gains in our passing defense disappeared in our three play-off games.
In three games, we gave up 17 big passing plays; 14 of 20+ yards and 3 of 40+ yards.
In the play-offs, we gave 5.67 big passing plays per game.
The percentage of passing plays that went for first downs increased from 31.4 % to 39.5%.
The passer rating of opposition quarterbacks increased from 78 to 109.5.
Passing yards allowed per game increased from 200.2 per game to 306 per game.
Completion percentage increased from 59.4% to 68.4%.
Yards gained per pass attempt increased from 6.1 to 8.2.
The Atlanta and Baltimore play-off games complicate the task of understanding the discrepancy between our regular season pass defense and our play-off past defense. In the first half of both the Atlanta and the Baltimore game, our pass defense got its clock cleaned, but not in the second half.
In the first half of the Atlanta game, Matt Ryan competed 18 of 24 passes for 271 yards and 3 scores. He completed 75% of his passes and had a passer rating of 151.2. In the second half, he completed 12 of 18 passes for 125 yards and no scores. By the end of the game, his passer rating had dropped to 114.8.
In the Baltimore game, Joe Flacco completed 13 of 20 passes, for 192 yards and 3 scores in the first half. He completed 65% of his passes and had a passer rating of 135.8. In the second half, he completed 9 of 13 passes for only 95 yards and no scores. By the end of the game, his passer rating fell to 124.2.
From the get go, it clearly appears that if our first half pass defense against Atlanta Baltimore had been close to as successful as our second pass half defense against them, we would have won the conference championship and the Super Bowl going away.
I keep asking myself what the'ell happened.
If I were more intelligent, I might be able to answer that question, but I am not.
I cannot come up with any rational answer. Without a doubt there is people out there are both more intelligent than I, and understand the game better than I do.
The only definite conclusion that I have been to reach is that the blame for the demise our pass defense cannot be placed on the debilities of the individuals in our defensive backfield. Goldson, Whitner, Rogers, Brown, and Culliver played in the regular season and the post season. They played in the first half and the second half of both the Atlanta and the Baltimore game. They were a constant and the results changed.
I would appreciate your thoughts.
[ Edited by buck on Apr 4, 2013 at 3:46 PM ]