Even when the Ravens did not have 6 linemen in the game, they used a multitude of extra set blockers to help both tackles. On 9 of the team’s 35 pass plays they used 2 or 3 set blockers. I’d like to say all that extra help paid off, but both Oher and Cousins turned in mediocre performances.
In the games last 25 minutes (once the score had reached 28-7), the Bears stalled the Ravens’ offense as the Ravens did not mount a single drive of note and recorded just 3 first downs. Amazingly, during that time, the Bears moved the chains just twice.
Scoring from the Detroit and Green Bay games will follow separately.
The Ravens ran 65 plays from scrimmage, excluding 1 kneel:
Oher: Still looks lost at times (I observe this whether he is playing on the left or right, but it’s more costly on the left). He had 2 very similar lapses Sunday.
· With 3rd and 6 (Q2, 0:27) he had Alex Brown opposite him at RDE. The Ravens had McClain kept in to block on the left side. Oher stood up on the rim of the pocket and Brown merely stood up as well approximately 5 yards away. A large gap developed between LT and LG, which Lance Briggs raced through. Oher turned to look at Briggs as McClain moved to pick him up. However, Briggs fought McClain to Flacco and Oher turned his back entirely on Brown to watch the struggle. At that point, Brown came delayed as McClain managed to push Briggs by Flacco. Brown did not miss and slammed Flacco as he threw incomplete to Mason in the end zone. I could not verify it as a QH, so I just charged him a penetration (it would have been 1 less point total had Flacco gone to the ground).
· With the Ravens running down the clock (Q4, 9:40), Flacco nonetheless dropped back to pass on 1st and 10 in what was a very safe pattern. The Ravens kept 3 set blockers in and had all of them (McGahee, McClain, Jones) on the left side! Brown was again in at RDE, but opposite Jones. Brown immediately began to outmuscle Edgar to the inside as Oher patrolled the gap between them and Grubbs without anyone to block. Once again, however, as Jones gave ground in an attempt to square up against Brown, Oher turned his back to the LoS to watch and Hillenmeyer came delayed this time. Jones kept his hand on his man, and eventually pancaked him to the side of Flacco (eerily similar play) as Oher watched. Meanwhile, Hillenmeyer came as a trailer and blew by the distracted MO for the sack.
Michael otherwise had a solid game, missing only 2 other blocks, but that’s like saying Jim Brown was held in check with the exception of his 60-yard run and his 32-yard run. He was flagged for Illegal formation (Q2, 0:35), but it again was not his penalty as Williams failed to set up on the LoS. Scoring: 53 blocks, 2 missed, 1 Penetration, 1 sack, 45 points on 57 plays (.79 per play).
Grubbs: Aside from the hit allowed on Troy Smith, Grubbs played well. He pulled successfully on 4 of 5 attempts, and made 1 block in level 2. He and Birk both like to get a running start into level 2. Despite the fact I have Yanda scored for 2 blocks in L2, he seems more comfortable and effective bulldozing the closest player. Scoring: 58 blocks, 6 missed, 1 QH, 55 points (.85 per play).
Birk: While Birk made the vast majority of his blocks against the Bears, I’d say subjectively that Matt did not fare well against the Bears interior linemen. He was twice beaten by Anthony Adams (once shared with McClain) on plays that resulted in a loss. Scoring: 54 blocks, 1 missed, 1.5 penetrations, 51 points on 57 plays, (.89 per play).
Yanda: Marshal has been one of the best 2 or 3 guards in the NFL since returning there in week 12. He’s now played 4 games there and has been the beast of burden for the Ravens rejuvenated running game. His scores have been modest on my system which rewards players that avoid serious pass blocking mistakes. However, Yanda and Oher are the Ravens most dominant run blockers and my system doesn’t capture the quality of those blocks. Profootballfocus.com does a good job grading run blocks. I’m highly skeptical of new ratings methodologies, so I always try to see if my own observations match such ratings. I’d recommend anyone who wants to gauge their own observations to choose 3 games you have recorded and watch every offensive play, subjectively grading just 1 player all the way through. Then compare the results to the ratings from PFF and I think you’ll gain an appreciation for the quality of their ratings as I have. Scoring: 61 blocks, 3 missed, 1 QH, 58 points (.89 per play).
Cousins: Oniel gives up too much ground in the pocket. The best example I can give is (Q3, 14:55). Despite the fact that Flacco completed that pass for 12 yards, Cousins allowed the pocket to be collapsed by a smaller man. Neither of the penalties called against him was enforced, but one nullified what might have been a 27-yard play (12-yard catch plus facemask) and the other was declined when Flacco threw incomplete on 3rd and 6 (Q3, 3:47). He failed to block inside and allowed Idonije to penetrate and stop Rice for a loss of 1 (Q2, 6:44). He had some good plays, including a block from his knees (Q3, 6:16) and some solid push in the run game, but the outing can’t be considered a success. He moved to LT for the last 8 plays and made all 8 blocks. Scoring: 58 blocks, 5 missed, 1 penetration, 2 penalties (holding and illegal use of hands), 44 points (.68 per play).
Chester: He’s played well as a 6th lineman and got 8 snaps at center. Chris has the athleticism to play opposite most of the smaller edge rushers and they represent better matchup for him than most of the DTs in the league. Scoring: 18 blocks, 0 missed, 18 points (1.00 per play).
Moll: He’d only been on the field for a few snaps all season, but Tony Moll saw 8 plays at RT on the last 2 drives and made all 8 blocks (1.00 per play).
· I don’t agree with Harbaugh’s decision to punt on 4th and 6 at the Bears 41 (Q2, 0:18). I liked it even less when he declined the running into the kicker penalty that would have set up 4th and 1 at the 36 with just 13 ticks left. I liked Billick’s metaphor (“the price of playing poker has come down”), but that was a situation where the Bears would have run out the clock from either spot.
· Although it resulted in a mere 2 yard loss, Rice’s run (Q3, 9:26) ranks as one of the worst-blocked plays of the season for the Ravens. Every lineman either got beat or did something wrong other that Oher:
Oher moved a few yards forward and pushed Williams. It wasn’t impressive, but it was the Ravens best block.
Grubbs pulled right, but didn’t find a block
Yanda allowed 94 to slip off laterally and make the tackle. Normally Birk would have been in the way, but…
Birk was driven backwards by Anthony Adams. BTW, did anyone else see the size, shape, and number of that guy and wonder if Sam Adams had somehow returned to the NFL? He certainly looked like Sam Adams circa 2000 on this play.
Cousins moved into level 2 at the snap and allowed Hillenmeyer to slip off him with little effort
· I know I have never seen this before, but the Ravens managed to get 2 QBs knocked down on the same play (Q3, 2:16) when they ran the wildcat with Flacco split right. Smith was hit by Briggs as he passed backwards (I’m not positive, but would guess this means there can’t be a QH assigned any more than on a running play) to Flacco and Joe was flattened by Afalava (not recorded in the Gamebook) as he threw off target to Heap in the end zone.
· Le’Ron McClain has had a good year as a blocker. He’s fully deserving of his 2nd straight Pro Bowl and the flexibility he provides the Ravens with regard to where he can set up (TE, FB, tailback, or outside) has not received the attention deserved. His pass blocking has been solid to date, but he gave up too much ground in the pocket to Roach (Q3, 1:20), allowing the linebacker to get close enough to Flacco to dislodge the ball for the Bears’ first sack.
· Flacco and Smith threw 6 times to Demetrius Williams and he had a variety of impressive catches:
(Q2, 4:08) He got good position on the slant, was well-led by Flacco, but watched the ball into his hands, and did not appear to fear contact.
(Q3, 12:58) He found space behind the corner and in front of the safety and quickly controlled Flacco’s deep out, and tip-toed in bounds.
(Q3, 12:32) On the very next play, Flacco threw deep for Williams in the left side of the end zone. Williams went up for the ball, but was contacted by Tillman, who had no idea where the ball was. Despite the contact, Williams maintained his concentration and hauled in the ball. I think there might be 10 starting WRs in the NFL who would have simply let their hands drop and start making flag motions after such contact.
(Q3, 8:07) Flacco overthrew Williams just out of bounds on the right side of the end zone. Williams allowed Tillman to get position and force him out of bounds as the pair moved up the sideline.
(Q4, 4:11) Smith hit Williams on a curl in front of Tillman. It was a simple outside throw and one of the Ravens’ bread-and-butter plays, but it’s nice to see DWill have the timing and sure hands.
(Q4, 2:00) Smith underthrew Williams near the goal line and was intercepted by Tillman. The 2 players had their feet tangle, but Williams was the one who went sprawling.
We didn’t see an over the shoulder grab in stride, or a WR screen, but he showed a little of everything else.