As our three-man wolf pack left M&T Bank Stadium yesterday evening to the tune of a 38-6 Ravens rout, there was an eerie silence falling over the surrounding area. PURE. SHOCK.
What did we just witness? Did the Ravens finally figure it all out? Does this team finally have an offensive identity? Where has this been all season?
So many questions to be answered, but for now? Let us bask in the glory of a rout!!!
In honor of our neighbors to the North, this report card will be Canadian. So basically overly nice, and a bunch of A’s (or eh’s as it were, but that’s a poorly made dad joke so my apologies).
Also, as a preface to all of the A’s below, understand that this was THE most complete game I’ve seen this Ravens team play in some time, and with the boys headed north to Foxboro next week, I feel it my duty to help boost their egos a bit and get them ready to take down the Patriots on Monday Night Football.
You know, for all of those Ravens players reading Report Cards at RSR…
Let’s grade ’em up!
Let me preface by saying that I am NOT a Joe Flacco apologist. BUT. His gift wrapped interception to Byron Maxwell could have easily been avoided if Mike Wallace were to make a play on the ball instead of watching it sail past his helmet.
That being said,an avoidable pick was the only blemish on Joe’s stat line. He stepped up in the pocket to complete big throws, scrambled and rolled out of the pocket in a controlled fashion, made some solid pitches, and did it all on his way to 36 completions (tying a career high) for 381 and four touchdowns. Those four touchdowns saw the wealth spread as Flacco hit a running back (Terrance West), tight end (Dennis Pitta x2) and wide receiver (Breshad Perriman) for scores.
Oh, and Joe got to spend the final 10 minutes hanging out on the bench while Ryan Mallett came in to orchestrate a scoring drive of his own. Not too shabby, eh?
Offensive Line: A
The Ravens offensive line was so dominant in this game, I completely forgot Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake were on the other side of the ball. The unit completely neutralized any pass rush by Miami, gave Flacco all day to throw, and when called upon to open running lanes (a handful of times) they made a hole worth running through.
And they did it with Marshal Yanda bumped over to LG and Vladimir Ducasse in at RG again. Oh, and only Ducasse was called for a penalty in this game. Very impressive game.
Running Backs: B
I feel like a broken record here, but I can only grade each unit on what they give me. And in this particular game, the run game was scant, at best.
Kenneth Dixon (6 carries, 56 yards) and West (10 carries, 50 yards, 1 touchdown) did manage to make the best out of their carries throughout the game, but they did just as much damage in the passing game, where Dixon pulled in four catches for 21 yards, while West had three grabs of his own for 18 yards and another score.
Overall, they made the most of their limited touches.
Wide Receivers: B+
Really, you can pick your poison in this group: Mike Wallace (6 receptions, 59 yards), Steve Smith Sr. (6 receptions, 53 yards), Kamar Aiken (3 receptions, 41 yards), and Perriman (2 receptions, 59 yards, 1 TD) all had solid games.
So why a B and not an A?
Three drops among the wide receivers hurt the Ravens in this game, particularly potential 1st down receptions by Chris Moore and Perriman that resulted in punts. Then there was the aforementioned Wallace no-effort play on Flacco’s pick.
Tight Ends: A
Welcome back to the end zone, Dennis Pitta!
Pitta led the Ravens passing attack with 11 targets, nine receptions, 90 yards and two touchdowns (all team highs this week), marking his first score since 2013.
Time to flip the field!
Defensive Line: B-
Overall, the defensive line kept Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi from busting huge plays, and held Miami to 62 rushing yards- their lowest total since the Fins lost to the Titans seven games ago.
But the Ravens struggled getting to Ryan Tannehill in this game, who had far too much time to throw more often than not. Thankfully, tight coverage in the secondary and Tannehill’s inaccuracy helped to mask some of their shortcomings this week.
Also, Timmy Jernigan, you need to cool your jets, son. Jernigan took a boneheaded penalty early in this game for a headbutt that was completely unnecessary. We can’t afford you in Harbs’ doghouse. You’re too valuable. Play smarter, not harder.
Again, not a ton of pressure in the backfield this week, but Matt Judon had himself a phenomenal sack on Tannehill. QB hits by C.J. Mosley, Elvis Dumervil, Za’Darius Smith, and Terrell Suggs (x2) helped this unit earn their grade this week.
Mosley did give up a few big pass plays down the middle again, which is becoming a bad habit for this defense on a weekly basis, but overall, he played much better than those few plays.
Sure! Another A! Why not??
Eric Weddle had himself a beautiful interception (that he held on to!) and returned it 50+ yards before getting tracked down, and Lardarius Webb also had himself an unbelievable pick in the end zone to keep Miami off the scoreboard. Jerraud Powers joined in the pick party, adding one of his own in the 4th quarter, while a returning Jimmy Smith and rookie Tavon Young really shut down their respective opponents in this game.
And now for the rest!
Special Teams: C+
Justin Tucker‘s leg was much more heavily used on kickoffs this week, and only once for a helluva 55-yard boot as time expired in the second quarter to push the Ravens’ lead to 24-0. Devin Hester didn’t fumble a ball, so I guess there’s a plus there (although he didn’t actually do anything to wow me, which I guess is becoming his M.O. these days).
Sam Koch again with his weekly botched punt kills me. And I know people rail on me for knocking Koch every single week, but facts are facts folks. This week Koch had a net 25-yard punt I believe? And it landed a good 5-7 yards out of bounds. It’s a bad habit he can’t shake and eventually it will come back to bite the Ravens.
Also, Matt Judon had yet another boneheaded Special Teams penalty to pin the Ravens deep in the second half which is also becoming a bad habit for him. But at least he contributes on Defense!
Last week I SWORE this wouldn’t happen two weeks in a row, but I’m giving the coaches the A again.
Great management of timeouts. Great two-minute drill before halftime leading to a Tucker field goal. Great offensive game plan hitting Miami in the mouth in the middle of the field. Great defensive game plan forcing Tannehill into bad throws and keeping Ajayi in check.
Just great all around.
And Harbaugh didn’t speak coach-ese in his post-game presser!
WHO IS THIS TEAM????
Carl Cheffers crew was a JOKE this week when it came to pre-snap movement on the offensive line. Miami’s offensive line jumped at least five times in this game and was flagged for false start just once. Mosley timed a Dolphins snap perfectly… yet was called for offsides. I get one miss. But I felt like it was once per drive. And the missed False Starts on Miami typically resulted in some huge gains (not that it mattered in the final score).
I know officiating crews typically get graded throughout the season and that grade reflects on their ability to join post-season crews, but with the new ‘mix and match’ crews this season, I’m not exactly sure how that would work. BUT. This ‘crew’ should not have a place in that postseason carousel. Embarrassing to zebras everywhere.
TEAM GRADE: A-
All season long, win or lose, I feel like the theme of the 2016 Ravens has been “they have yet to play a complete game.”
THIS was the culmination of all of our frustrations all season long.
And while there’s something to be said about the teams that Miami has beaten during their six-game winning streak and how they beat those teams, as a Ravens fan, we know that this game was much more about what the Ravens finally did, and less about what Miami didn’t do.
Now if only that effort and result can be duplicated next Monday in Foxboro…