The Ravens need to find a way to stop 4-man pressure. Only 4 times in 36 drop backs did the Falcons rush more than 4, but the Ravens were unable to deal with their frequent stunts. By number of Falcon pass rushers, here’s how it broke down:
3: 8 plays, 75 yards, 9.4 YPP, 1 sack, 1 INT
4: 24 plays, 121 yards, 5.0 YPP, 1 sack
5: 3 plays, 8 yards, 2.7 YPP
6: 1 play, 0 yards
Despite that pass rush distribution, Flacco had ample time and space (ATS) on just 13 of 36 (36%) pass plays and completed 8 of 12 for 79 yards in addition to a sack for 3 yards (5.8 YPP) and an interception. This could have been a game where Ray Rice ran wild after the catch, but he was targeted just 5 times with 3 catches for 43 yards. Heap caught an 18-yard pass on the Ravens final possession (Q4, 0:18). Prior to that, the longest completion with ATS was 13 yards (Q3, 8:11 and Q4, 8:14). The Falcons have one of the best pass rush units in the league and, as with each of the Ravens 3 losses, they rushed few consistently and effectively.
Without ATS, Flacco was 14 of 22 for 136 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, and 1 sack for 8 yards (5.6 YPP). While you wouldn’t want that YPP from your passing game overall, those are excellent results with pressure.
The Ravens ran 56 competitive offensive plays (excludes the kneel), but fielded a very unusual offensive line on the game’s final play (see below).
Oher: The Ravens have no other option at left tackle in 2010, but if Oher continues to play as he has, the Ravens may seriously consider whether his long-term future should be at LT or RT. He was beaten inside for a sack by Abraham (Q3, 15:00), was too slow picking up a delayed rush by Biermann (Q3, 2:05), and allowed parts of 3 separate penetrations/pressures. That’s a lot of mistakes for a game with just 55 snaps. Scoring: 45 blocks, 5 missed, 2 penetrations (1 full plus 2 shared), 1 QH, 1 sack, 32 points (.58 per play). It’s a very close comp for last season against the Vikings and 3 weeks ago vs. New England as Michael’s worst career game. MO’s worst games have come against better competition (Allen, Wilfork, and Abraham), yet that merely provides an excuse. In just his 2nd season in Baltimore, Oher has a mystique that seems to make him above criticism. Conversely, we’re perfectly capable of complaining about Flacco’s inability to solve the better defenses or play at a high level in the playoffs. I’m thrilled with the production Yanda has provided at RT, but also convinced that the Ravens are missing out on multiple Pro Bowls by playing Oher on the left side.
Grubbs: Ben also had a subpar game against the Falcons. He connected on 1 of 2 pulls and had 2 pancakes, but made just 1 block in level 2 after 10 last week. Those are primarily a function of the fact the Ravens never got the running game going. I assigned him 2 full penetrations. He was late on Adkins delayed blitz (Q1, 5:05, pass was completed for 13 anyway) and was shed by Babineaux (Q2, 10:16) on his stuff of McGahee. He avoided another penetration when he missed his block, but Oher’s man pressured Flacco first (Q1, 9:04). Scoring: 46 blocks, 6 missed, 2.5 penetrations, 41 points (.75 per play).
Birk: He had a top-shelf game following poor outing against Miami. He had 10 level 2 blocks and 1 pancake. Scoring: 54 blocks, 2 missed, 54 points, .96 per play.
Chester: Chris is an example of what’s good about the Ravens’ offensive line. He’s been there all year as have all 5 of them and the continuity has helped produce a modestly effective pass-blocking line. They have been degraded tremendously as a run-blocking unit with the absence of Gaither and resulting positional shifts, but this team has yet to experience a debilitating in-season injury. His 2 full penetrations on Thursday occurred when he allowed Walker to push him back into Flacco (Q3, 2:39) and when he was late in picking up Perry’s stunt (Q4, 2:39). Scoring: 47 blocks, 5 missed, 2.5 penetrations, 42 points (.76 per play).
Yanda: Marshal had 3 missed blocks and his only serious mistake was a QH allowed (Q2, 8:53). On that play, Yanda allowed pressure from Walker that forced Flacco to move and Davis cleaned up. Scoring: 51 blocks, 3 missed, 1 QH, 48 points (.87 per play).
The final play was something to see as the Ravens essentially fielded a special teams unit to try to advance the ball up the field. For the record, Birk was the only regular lineman. The Ravens lined up a physical Marcus Smith at LT, Dickson at LG, McClain at RG (that one makes sense), and McGahee at RT. The Falcons rushed 3 and that line actually stood its ground as Flacco took time to release for Houshmandzadeh. An unfortunate collision knocked the ball loose, but it’s nice to see the Ravens had that ready to go, you know, after just 1 delay of game penalty. This was the first play of the season where the Ravens 5 starting offensive linemen were not on the field together.