It’s unusual that an opponent can average 6.7 yards per offensive play and not ever be in the game, but that is what happened Sunday. Save for the goal line stand, the Ravens moved the ball effortlessly on their first 3 drives, rolled up a 17-0 lead, and were never challenged. The Broncos got yardage in big chunks (6 plays of 19+ yards), but were unable to keep their defense off the field as the Ravens rolled for 233 rushing yards and 73 offensive plays to 52 for the Broncos.
If you’re one of those people who requires a concern, perhaps it’s the Ravens inability to close. To summarize:
· The goal line result on the Ravens’ initial series was unfortunate, but the Ravens had Ed Dickson on the field for 2 of those plays at TE rather than Oniel Cousins as an extra mauler.
· The coaching staff exercised questionable clock management that led to a 45-second drive at the end of Q2 despite the fact that the Broncos would have been content to let the clock run out. The Ravens had collected just 6 yards of offense on the previous 3 drives. That set up Orton’s first TD to Lloyd.
· They were unable to corral 3 more interceptions, any of which would have been difficult, but at least 1 of which should have been converted.
There was a lot to like about this game, but this is a game the Ravens should have won by a larger margin.
The Broncos had no excluded plays (spikes, kneels) among 52 snaps:
Vs. the Run: 13 plays, 39 yards, 3.0 YPC
Vs. the Pass: 39 plays, 307 yards, 7.9 YPP
Overall: 52 plays, 346 yards, 6.7 YPPA
By number of defensive backs
Standard (4 DBs): 14/97, 6.9 YPPA
Nickel (5 DBs): 22/140, 6.4 YPPA
Dime (6 DBs): 16/109, 6.8 YPPA, 1 sack
By number of pass rushers
3 or fewer: 4 plays, 91 yards, 22.8 YPP, 2 TDs
4: 16/127, 7.9 YPPA, 1 sack
5: 9/56, 6.2 YPPA
6: 7/15, 2.1 YPPA
7+: 3/18, 6.0 YPPA.
· Ngata’s ill-fated pass route on the Ravens’ initial drive cost him the defensive start as he sat out most of the first series. He would not return for any further offensive action, but nonetheless played well in 33 defensive snaps. His 3 tackles equate to perhaps 6 against an opponent that would run the ball a league average amount. His personal defensive highlights included smothering Buckhalter for a 3-yard loss (Q2, 4:26) where he penetrated the right A gap and dropping Brown for a 1-yard loss (Q3, 9:08). However, his biggest 2 plays came in a supporting role. With the Broncos at the Ravens 27 on 1st and 10 (Q2, 1:01), Ngata crashed the left A gap and forced a double from Walton and Hochstein. Ray Lewis followed immediately. Walton peeled off Ngata, but was flagged for holding Lewis. Ngata also played a big role in the intentional grounding call on Orton (Q4, 4:22). On that play, Ngata steamrolled Walton, then tripped over his prostrate form. Orton saw Ngata and dumped the ball off into the wide-open flat. Suggs stunted right from LDE, following Ngata to clean up with a QH, but it does not appear Terrell’s pressure caused Orton to bail.
· We have already heard plenty about the Ravens’ receivers all wanting their catches. There simply aren’t enough snaps to get the full extent of secondary depth on the field for the Ravens. On Sunday they played their base 4 of Washington, Carr, Zibby, and Landry for all 52 snaps, but Wilson and Webb split the nickel and dime snaps on the outside, essentially alternating by series. Nakamura was limited to play only as the dime and he split those snaps with Ken Hamlin. Hamlin had 7 non-penalty snaps, Nakamura 9, Webb 18, and Wilson 20. Cary Williams was active, but played only on special teams.
· Washington’s game has been lauded already by Harbaugh and he limited Brandon Lloyd while he was on his side. Lloyd caught only 5 of the 14 balls with which he was targeted. I can’t recall a Raven ever recording more than 4 PDs in a single game and all of Fabian’s came against the NFL’s leading receiver (by yards) in the first half. Washington’s other highlight was a hold drawn on Thomas (Q1, 7:34) that wiped out Royal’s 33-yard run. He was not perfect (nor does he need to be) in coverage, allowing a 19-yard strike to Gaffney (Q2, 1:11) and a 14-yard catch with 11 YAC to Lloyd (Q3, 14:53).
· Orton consistently picked on Wilson when he was in. Wilson is credited with 2 PD’s, either of which would have been a difficult interception. I could see little contact at all on the pass interference call (Q4, 1:48), but he was beaten deep to the right corner by Lloyd (Q4, 0:43). That’s as far as a safety ever needs to go, but Zibby was late and the ball was thrown almost perfectly. Wilson otherwise played somewhat soft, but made sure tackles.
· Webb was effective in coverage and contributed 6 tackles (gains of 10, 2, 3, 10, 9, 5) in just 18 defensive snaps while not surrendering a big play. That includes one tackle which was miscredited to Washington (Q1, 8:07). Normally, tackles aren’t a good statistic for a corner, but Webb makes tackles on other DB’s assignments as much as any CB I have seen. His tackle on Gronkowski (Q2, 7:30) is an example of such a play from across the field. Almost every game, he does something athletically that is just astounding. I’d refer you to his failed route jumping on Gaffney (Q2, 1:57). He tried for the PD/pick, failed, and is still able to drag down Gaffney for a gain of just 3. That was a play that would typically result in significant YAC.
· For the game, the Ravens played a standard 4 DB set on just 14 of 52 plays (27%) as the Broncos played a number of 3 and 4-receiver packages. The loss of Thomas on the violent kickoff/fumble (Q2, 10:18) reduced the number of combinations, but the Broncos still had Royal, Gaffney, and Lloyd on the field for a number of plays.
· With a limited running game, Lewis’ contributions were reduced. He had 6 tackles that were 7, 2, 6, 8, 3, and 7 yards from the line of scrimmage, so it wasn’t a typical game of gap shooting for Ray. However, 4 of the above 6 were offensive failures based on down and distance. He was held twice on pass plays. The first is mentioned above with the notes on Ngata. The second (Q2, 3:45) occurred when Hochstein held him on a delayed blitz to wipe out a 17-yard gain.
· Redding played well in his most extensive action to date (41 snaps). His sack (Q2, 7:43) came on a stunt to the ORS. RT Ryan Harris was too slow and Redding cleaned up as Suggs initially pressured Orton off the spot. Redding’s other highlight came at Q2, 5:49 when he penetrated to stop Brown for no gain.
· The Ravens’ only ineffective play against the run (Q2, 5:12) came on 3rd and 1 when Suggs lost the edge to Daniel Graham which set Maroney free for a 13-yard run off right end. That was to be the Broncos only rushing 1st down of the day. Their 3 other runs over 5 yards were for 7 yards on 2nd and 20 (Q1, 6:57), 8 yards on 3rd and 11 (Q2, 13:45), and 7 yards on 1st and 15 (Q2, 8:24).
· Suggs and JJ otherwise set the edges well and contributed some pressure. Johnson’s highlights were a QH as he beat Harris to the outside, a takedown of Maroney for a loss of 1 as he beat Clady to the outside, and pressure after a nifty avoidance of Harris’ cut block (Q3, 13:32) which caused Orton to misfire. In addition to the plays noted above, Suggs beat Harris (Q3, 8:25) to take down Buckhalter for a loss of 1. JJ contributed a nice finishing hit on that play.
· The Ravens rushed 3 men or less on just 4 pass plays, but those included both of the TD bombs to Lloyd. For the first half, the Ravens rushed fewer, but had what I scored as 7 deceptive blitzes on 17 pass plays. In the 2nd half, the Ravens switched to numbers as they rushed 6 or more 8 times on 22 drop backs.
The Ravens continued to make picking 3 important defensive plays difficult by not recording a defensive takeaway Sunday, so I won’t try.