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Ravens 29, Vikings 26

Report Card Ravens 29, Vikings 26

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Hey Ravens’ Faithful…

What. A. Game!

This game was full of the lowest of lows and incredible highs. The first half was a snoozer – largely as a result of the weather. BUT…

The last 5 minutes of the game may have been the most exciting 5 minutes of any game this season. When it comes to Ravens football, you just never know when last minute heroics are going to come alive and take over a game. I think it’s safe to say that most fans would rather see the Ravens absolutely manhandle a team from the first to the final whistle, but wins like today can define a season and forge confidence.

The same thing happened last year on the 4th and 29 “Hey Diddle Diddle, Ray Rice Up The Middle” play and without those last minute heroics, the Ravens may not have won the Super Bowl. The Miami Dolphins and the San Diego Chargers both won today, so a Ravens loss would have meant possibly sitting at home during the playoffs.

So, while I’d love to have watched a Ravens team throttle Minnesota, a win is a win and the beer is always coldest after a win like today.

 

Offensive Grade: A-

Overall, I think the offense had a decent day. For once, the running game seemed to finally get to where it should have been all season. Typically, running in snow is not easy because the offensive line gets very little push on the defensive line. Ray Rice had 67 yards on 17 attempts, which is around 3.95 yards per carry. That’s not amazing, but Rice ran purposefully today. He was a lot more decisive in picking his holes, hitting them squarely and running downhill. Bernard Pierce, on the other hand, did a lot of dancing around and it just didn’t work out for him. Pierce had less than 2 yards per carry.

The offensive line did a nice job protecting Joe Flacco today and on many of the offensive snaps, Flacco had a decent pocket with more than sufficient time. Michael Oher continued to have issues with penalties and Marshall Yanda, Gino Gradkowski and Eugene Monroe had some problems today. However, Minnesota has some good players on the defensive line (Jared Allen and Kevin Williams), so all in all I thought the line did a solid job. Joe Flacco turned in an up and down game (28/50, 245 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs). Yet, if it weren’t for Flacco, I’m not sure the Ravens would have a win this season. His final throw to Marlon Brown was perfect and only where Marlon could get it.

My biggest issue with the offense today was their inability to get Torrey Smith more involved. Other than his 2-point converting reception, he only had 1 reception today and it didn’t come until the second half of play. I just think there is no excuse for this. Torrey is one of the best players on the team and is much more than a vertical receiver. He excels with crossing routes when Joe can get him the ball in space, in stride. The past few weeks it just seems like they’re trying to only hit Torrey on deep stuff. I see a lot of teams using bubble screens to allow their playmakers an opportunity to quickly get the ball out in space and make something happen. Denver runs this play to Demaryius Thomas almost every week and Minnesota ran it today multiple times to Greg Jennings and Cordarrelle Patterson. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the offense seems to be turning a bit of a corner, but I really do think they are not using their players to their fullest potential.

 

Defensive Grade: D

I’ve mentioned it several times prior to this game, but there is a disturbing trend we are witnessing from the defensive unit. This is the 7th time this season where the defensive has essentially given the game away after being in the lead. Some would say that the onus is on the offense to score more points and while there is certainly a degree of truth to that, a majority of the off-season energy and money was devoted to the defensive side of the ball. Right now, the defense ranks in the top-10 in a lot of statistical categories (they’ve only allowed 3 rushing touchdowns for example), but statistics are meaningless when the defense struggles late in the game to seal a victory.

To make matters worse, players like Matt Cassel, Jason Campbell and Josh McCown are dismantling them. The defense has talent, but the philosophy of Dean Pees is generic and easily identifiable. Opposing offenses are doing what they want because they can. If it weren’t for the Special Teams unit and the offense, the Ravens would have lost today. Lardarius Webb made some big plays today, but he was also picked on quite a bit. His game is predicated on burst and lateral quickness, which was all but nullified by the snow. Another player that has impressed is DeAngelo Tyson. Whenever he gets on the field, he seems to make a play, oftentimes in the opponent’s backfield.

Finally, this is the second week in a row where the Ravens have not had a sack. I know they were missing Elvis Dumervil, but where has Terrell Suggs been? Art Jones? Granted, Dean Pees doesn’t run the most brilliant defensive game plan in the NFL, but I’d still like to think that these guys can win their 1-on-1 match ups every now and then and get to the quarterback. This is one reason why the defense struggles late in games; there is no pressure at all.

 

Special Teams Grade: A+

When Jacoby Jones first came to Baltimore, I was a little skeptical because while in Houston he had underwhelmed a lot. However, he is just a good fit in Baltimore and he is always making plays when given the opportunity. Jones isn’t an outstanding receiver, but what he lacks as a receiver, he makes up for as a return specialist. Jones is arguably the best return specialist in the NFL right now. The way he tiptoed down the sideline today for a big time score just goes to show you what Jones can do when coaches aren’t meandering their way onto the field while watching the JumboTron…

The Ravens have clawed their way out of a 3-5 hole halfway through the season and are now 7-6. They currently hold the last wild card playoff spot and their fate is in their hands. They’ve got tough games coming up against Detroit, New England and the Bengals, all of which are winnable. It is very possible that the Ravens could win 10 games this season.

And once a team gets into the playoffs, nothing that happened during the regular season matters.

 

GIF courtesy of Gordon Dixon

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Paul Lukoskie

About Paul Lukoskie

Paul (aka WickedSolo) has been an avid football fan since he was a little kid. As former player himself (through college only...turning pro and having million dollar contracts and fame just sounded too overwhelming...or he's just a 5'11" 200lb guy who was only good enough to play D-3 ball...but who's counting...) he has a ton of experience in the locker room, on the field, and in the film room during the off-season and the regular season. While serving in the US Navy on active duty he had the opportunity to check out the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama and caught the attention of a few Ravens' scouts (not too hard to spot the only guy in Mobile wearing camo fatigues with a purple Ed Reed jersey) and they were kind enough to point out some of the things they look for when scouting players. From that point on, Paul was hooked on the draft and everything leading up to it. He regularly contributes draft-based analytical pieces on the RSR forum and is constantly providing Ravens fans with collegiate players to check out. Paul is a Charm City native through and through and after being Honorably discharged from the Navy lives with his wife Ashly and son Jack. Jack is less than a year old, but is in the process of training to play for the Ravens in 2033. More from Paul Lukoskie
15 comments
Tucker: M&T Sec 527
Tucker: M&T Sec 527

I might have reflected on the impact of Pitta's return (huge) on the offense in evaluating the offense. yes the 4Q defenses lapses must stop, but I'm willing to concede yesterday's to a large degree to exhaustion fom the cold and slick. Minnesota defense had the same opportunities to salt away a win, but they too we're running on fumes.

ewilley9
ewilley9

It's about time we started getting some home town calls. We've been contenders for years but never got the Hometown calla ala Pittsburgh or the Skins in the RFK days. Those guys got every close call. It's nice to get a clutch call occasionally.

brooksie78
brooksie78

I thought Suggs had a very good game. He was very effective against the outside runs. All their running success was over the middle. It was clear the game plan (especially without Dumervil) was to contain Peterson. They did that. It was Patterson (and then Gerhart) up the middle that did them in. None of that related to pressure (or lack thereof).

RJ
RJ

Each week, RSR proves why they are the best Ravens site in Baltimore, and it starts and ends with the most objective reporting and commentary while never forgetting their love of this team. Ravens are one of the most frustrating teams in the league, but for those who stick with/by them, they also offer up some of the most exciting rewards! We are rarely pretty, and sometimes, not even fun to watch, but we are ALWAYS worth watching regardless. This year has been the most agrevating of the Harbaugh/Flacco/Rice era, but the fact that we may still end up exactly where we want/need to be after going 3-5 midway through the season. The next three games will be absolutely pivotal, but we might be able to get away with losing one thanks to the other teams that are "in the hunt" not having the best schedules either, but we MUST win at least two games to ensure our play-off spot. After seeing the way we won yesterday, I feel a lot better of our chances.

Hosed By Refs
Hosed By Refs

You should also give a grade of A++ to the folks who really won the game for the Ravens--the officials. Horrid officiating from the non-fumble, bogus illegal block call and numerous absurd spots throughout the game to the BS PI call on Greenway negating the game-wnning interception. Refs really laid it out for the Ravens. A++!!

g money
g money

tight article, thanks for writing. I am ecstatic to be 7-6 after being 4-6 3 weeks ago. This team is not without its flaws, and our defense has let us down at key points this year. Our defense is a prideful group, so I am sure they are working on it and will be there for us down the stretch. As far as Flacco goes, I love that man. I am so glad he is the QB of my team. He has struggled at times this year, but there is nobody I would rather have under center when we need a big win and the game is on the line. At this point, all we have to do is get into the dance.

John P
John P

So, I'd ask you visit any (yes, ANY) other city in America and ask them if the Ravens are frustrating to watch. I suspect you won't get much sympathy for the defending World Champions who have been to 3 Conference Championshipo games in the last 5 years and haven't failed to win a playoff game during that time. You're only frustrated because you're a fan. I should know - I'm frustrated too ;). That said, I'm also more bullish on our ability to win 2 of the next 3 than I was prior to yesterday. But let's not forget, we're facing 3 teams that are leading their divisions, 2 of those games are on the road, and the third includes Tom Brady...

Reading Comments
Reading Comments

And still the Vikings were able to score two touchdowns in under two minutes, and still lost. Quit with the crying. The Vikings are 3-9-1 for a reason.

Mike Lurz
Mike Lurz

Yeah, because they are always so kind to the Ravens. For ONCE it went their way, and we are told ( when it doesnt) that we need to suck it up...so suck it up

Derek Arnold
Derek Arnold

The fumble absolutely should have been overturned - no idea what they were looking at. But there was a blatant hold on Patterson's TD that went uncalled too. Stop whining.

Phil
Phil

I've always said that if officials "decided the outcome", then you did not deserve to win.

John P
John P

Not only that, but the "BS PI call on Greenway" was still a hold... So, move the ball back a few yards and still give us a first down. SMH... Truth is, the officials deserved an F- for their performance. Both sides have legitimate gripes.

Paul
Paul

And defensive holding by Cook multiple times on Torrey.

Big Perm
Big Perm

The officials most certainly did NOT decide the outcome. Joe Flacco did!

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