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The third-down myth

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) can't

Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) can't keep his balance while being pulled down after a short gain by New York Giants linebacker Michael Boley during the first quarter. (Aug. 28, 2010) Credit: MCT

One of the coaches must have spoken to the team about their inability to stop the Ravens on third downs last night, because several players -- Justin Tuck, Michael Boley, and a few others -- noted the Giants' lack of stopping power. So how bad were the Giants on third downs?

Actually they were pretty good. The Ravens converted only 4 of 15 third down attempts in the game and just 2 of 8 in the first half when it was starters vs. starters. There was also one on a penalty against Antrel Rolle which we'll get into in a bit. So they were pretty good.

The real trouble, of course, was fourth down. The Ravens converted all three of their tries to convert on fourth down, including a touchdown on fourth-and-3 from the 9 when Joe Flacco hit Anquan Boldin. In the regular season would the Ravens have settled for a field goal there? When they had fourth-and-goal from the 6 in the first quarter they did.

"Really what killed us was the third downs," Boley said. "That's one of the key things is to get off the field on third down, and we didn't do a good job of that today."

He has the right concept. Just the wrong down.

New York Sports