The New England Patriots defense should be extremely proud of themselves based on the way they played against Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens. Their pride should arise not from the fact they played well against Flacco because they certainly did not do that. Instead, they should be proud because they achieved what so few teams had been able to do while playing against Flacco; they made him look like a good quarterback.
Before Flacco faced off against the Patriots in the conference championship game, in his 17 games previous, he had completed only 57.3 percent of his passes while gaining 6.7 yards per pass attempt, 6.5 adjusted yards per pass attempt, 5.9 net yards per pass attempt, 5.7 adjusted net yards per pass attempt, and 11.6 yards per completion. Additionally, Flacco had posted a touchdown percentage of 3.9 percent, an interception percentage of 2.1 percent, and a sack percentage of 6.0 percent.
There is no diplomatic way in which to describe how Flacco performed in those 17 contests. He was simply a truly awful quarterback whose play barely warranted the playing opportunities he received.
Against the Patriots, however, he looked like a quarterback who actually belonged in the NFL, while improving on most of his statistics. He completed 61.1 percent of his passes against the Patriots while gaining 8.5 yards per pass attempt, 8.4 adjusted net yards per pass attempt, 7.2 net yards per pass attempt, 7.1 adjusted net yards per pass attempt, and 13.9 yards per completion.
Flacco also had a touchdown percentage of 5.6 percent, an interception percentage of 2.8 percent, and a sack percentage of 7.7 percent.
Compared to his 17 previous games, Flacco’s stat line was 6.6 percent higher in completion percentage, 26.9 percent higher in yards per pass attempt, 29.2 percent higher in adjusted yards per pass attempt, 22.0 percent higher in net yards per pass attempt, 24.6 percent in adjusted net yards per pass attempt, 19.8 percent higher in yards per completion, 43.6 percent higher in touchdown percentage, 33.3 percent higher in interception percentage, and 28.3 percent higher in sack percentage.
Despite the fact his interception percentage was higher than it had been in his previous 17 games combined, the increase in his touchdown percentage outpaced it so he did still better in his touchdown-to-interception ratio.
Futhermore, the fact Flacco was sacked more than usual did nothing to affect the fact he still had higher averages in net yards and adjusted yards per pass attempt.
Such is the astonishingly inept New England Patriots pass defense that they can even turn a mediocre quarterback into an above-average one for at least one game.