Breaking down Pennington's breakdown

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
MIAMI -- There are several ways to dissect a quarterback's performance.

Sometimes the stat line isn't enough.

For example: 9 of 23 for 135 yards and zero touchdowns for a 59.1 passer rating. Those look like numbers for a backup replacing the injured starter in the second half of a blowout.

Yet they belonged to Baltimore Ravens rookie Joe Flacco, who started and played all four quarters in Sunday's 27-9 playoff victory over the Miami Dolphins.

Sometimes, however, one number on the stat line is enough. Four interceptions is a bad day no matter what. Chad Pennington can testify.

Although Pennington's 53.7 passer rating wasn't the worst of his career, if you consider the game was being played in January it would be difficult to argue it wasn't his worst day.

Doug Kern and Hank Gargiulo from ESPN Stats & Analysis broke down Pennington's afternoon in every way imaginable. Here is what they found:

  • Pennington had a 0.0 passer rating on throws that traveled 10 yards or farther in the air. He tried six times, completing one for exactly 10 yards and throwing three interceptions.

  • On passes shorter than 10 yards, he completed 24 of 32 for 242 yards, one touchdown and one interception. His receivers accounted for 150 yards after the catch.

  • He had a 0.0 passer rating on third down, completing 1 of 5 attempts for 9 yards with two interceptions.

  • But he was highly efficient on first down, connecting on 13 of 17 passes for 131 yards and no touchdowns or interceptions for a 97.9 passer rating.

  • He tried to avoid the middle of the field, with good reason. He threw nine passes between the painted numbers, completing five for 42 yards and getting two picked off.

Pennington had a 37.8 passer rating in the first half, but it wasn't the worst half of his six-game playoff career.

Five years ago, against the Oakland Raiders, he posted an 8.7 rating in the second half. He went just 7 of 26 for 85 yards and no touchdowns with two interceptions.