Terrell Suggs was phenomenal as he led the Ravens to victory with his former General in the audience.
The Baltimore Ravens came away with an extremely convincing win over the Houston Texans in their Week 3 showdown. On a day where Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were both back in M&T Bank Stadium, the current Ravens defense proved they were just fine without them.
Baltimore's defense was exceptional and led the way to victory by keeping the Texans out of the end zone. For the second consecutive game, the Ravens held their opposition scoreless in the second half as Baltimore pulled away in what became a rout.
What follows is an evaluation of every Raven that played on offense, defense or special teams (only the specialists) against Houston, complete with a letter grade for each one. The grades represent the following levels of performance:
B: Above average
D: Below average
F: Terrible game
The statistical output of the player was a factor for the grades, but they are also affected by how well they played on each snap.
For example, Marcus Spears didn't accumulate eye-popping statistics, but when you watch the tape you see that he was consistently beating blocks, putting pressure on Matt Schaub and altering running lanes for Arian Foster and Ben Tate.
Joe Flacco: C+
Stats: 16-of-24 (67%) for 171 yards, 0 TDs
It wasn’t a pretty showing by the offense, but Joe Flacco did enough to come away with the win. He was inaccurate on some of his early throws, but he did a very good job on third downs.
He was excellent on the drive coming out of halftime which led to a rushing touchdown and put the Ravens up by 15 points. Flacco didn’t air it out that much, but on that drive, he connected on a couple of deep balls and put the game away for good.
He battled bad field position for much of the game and was excellent at avoiding pressure in the pocket.
Bernard Pierce: B-
Stats: 24 carries for 65 yards (2.7 ypc), 1 rushing TD, 2 receptions for 7 yards
Pierce’s average looks bad, but he rarely had any room to break any runs, and it’s more a reflection of the line than him. The Texans front was constantly getting penetration on running plays and shedding blocks around the line of scrimmage. When the creases did appear, he picked up yards so he made the most of his limited chances.
He’s not a receiving threat by any stretch, but he made a few challenging catches while running flats. Pierce was also pretty good in pass protection, including an instance where he blocked J.J. Watt who was coming at him with a full head of steam.
Vonta Leach: B+
Stats: 3 carries for 8 yards, 2 receptions for 11 yards
As per usual, Leach’s stellar play doesn’t show up in the box score. He was blocking Texans with his usual ferocity, but there were a couple of plays where he didn’t fully connect, allowing his man to make the tackle.
He didn’t get many chances to work through and make blocks in the second level, but he was good around the line of scrimmage. The fullback was also good in the receiving game, fighting for yards after the catch.
Torrey Smith: A-
Stats: 5 receptions for 92 yards (average 18.4)
Smith was, once again, the only thing going for the offense. He caught all the catchable balls thrown his way and almost made a circus catch on the sidelines that was overturned after a Houston challenge.
The emerging wideout showed off his full route tree and made only one long play in the game while demonstrating his aptitude for picking up yards after the catch on short routes.
Marlon Brown: C+
Stats: 2 receptions for 6 yards
Brown only saw three targets, but he made some good plays with all of them. He made a very difficult catch on a high throw by Flacco and worked well over the middle of the field to make a catch in traffic.
Flacco also targeted him deep, and Brown drew a pass-interference penalty on Kareem Jackson which got the Ravens their first red-zone trip of the game.
Brandon Stokley: C
Stats: 1 reception for 9 yards
Stokley wasn’t involved for much of the game, but he delivered when his number was called. He made a nine-yard grab to convert an important third down.
Dallas Clark: B-
Stats: 4 receptions for 46 yards
Clark caught a number of passes for first downs and was the only real alternative to Smith on the day. He did well picking up yards after the catch, but he did drop a pass and was a weakness in run blocking.
Ed Dickson: C-
Stats: 0 receptions
Dickson is still looking to get it going, and he was shut out of the box score in Week 3. He did make a long catch in the first quarter, but it was negated by one of Bryant McKinnie’s personal fouls.
He didn’t see much time on the field as Billy Bajema was inserted to give Baltimore a better blocking presence.
Billy Bajema: C
Stats: 0 receptions
Bajema was not targeted by Flacco, but he was used as a blocker in this contest and was fairly successful.
Bryant McKinnie: C-
Stats: 2 personal fouls
McKinnie was called for two personal fouls on the same drive which backed the Ravens up to a 3rd-and-35.
They were bad penalties, but other than that, he had a decent game against Houston’s edge-rushers.
Kelechi Osemele: D+
Stats: 1 holding penalty, 1 sack allowed
Osemele had some success when he pulled around on certain running plays, but aside from that, his game was pretty mediocre. He was called for a holding penalty, and Antonio Smith beat him to sack Joe Flacco.
Gino Gradkowski: C+
Stats: 0 penalties, 0 sacks allowed
Gradkowski was good for the most part. He struggled to get any kind of push off the line of scrimmage, but that was a common theme for the entire offensive line.
He did a good job dealing with stunts, blitzes and J.J. Watt when he worked his way to the middle of the line.
Marshal Yanda: B-
Stats: 0 penalties, 0 sacks allowed
Yanda didn’t make any mistakes, but the grades of the entire offensive line are representative of their struggles in the run game.
The guard played very well and did a decent job on J.J. Watt when the two were matched up. Yanda also showed the awareness to jump on Flacco’s fumble to prevent a turnover.
Michael Oher: D+
Stats: 0 penalties, 1 sack allowed
Oher had a few lapses, and most of them understandably came against Watt. He struggled when his man worked toward the inside, and both Watt and Antonio Smith made tackles for a loss on Bernard Pierce by working inside on Oher.
Furthermore, Watt used this tactic to gain some room and sack Flacco.
Haloti Ngata: B
Stats: 3 tackles (1 solo), 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit
Ngata was a solid presence in the middle of the defensive line for most of the game after Terrence Cody injured his knee early on. He showed off a great inside move to beat his man and sack Matt Schaub.
Terrence Cody: C
Stats: 1 tackle
Cody left the game in the first quarter with a left knee injury, so he didn’t get a chance to really make an impact on the game.
Arthur Jones: B
Stats: 3 tackles (1 solo), 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit
Jones repeatedly got into the Texans backfield and diverted running plays or hurried Matt Schaub. He showed a good burst to get to Schaub for his second sack in as many games.
Marcus Spears: A-
Stats: 3 tackles (2 solo), 2 TFL
Spears has a reputation as a run-stuffer, but he was effective as a pass-rusher against the Texans. He consistently got good penetration off the line of scrimmage and made a number of good plays in the backfield.
DeAngelo Tyson: C+
Stats: 1 tackle
Tyson played limited snaps, and he hurried Schaub once with his short opportunity.
Daryl Smith: A+
Stats: 10 tackles (7 solo), 1 pass defended, 1 QB hit, 1 INT, 1 TD
On the day that Ray Lewis was inducted into the Baltimore Ravens’ Ring of Honor, Daryl Smith showed him that the inside linebacker position was in good hands.
Smith was all over the field, racking up 10 tackles against the run and in coverage. He was excellent in coverage over the middle of the field, an area that has troubled the Ravens in their last two games, and he made the game-changing pick-six.
Josh Bynes: C-
Stats: 2 tackles (1 solo), 1 QB hit
Bynes missed a tackle on Ben Tate, and he couldn’t shed blocks on a couple of occasions. He showed decent skills in coverage and got some pressure on Schaub, hitting him once.
Terrell Suggs: A
Stats: 2 tackles (1 solo), 1 TFL, 1 QB hit, 1 sack
Suggs had an excellent game. He was constantly beating the Houston tackles off the edge and hurrying Schaub. He also worked back inside and made some plays on the Texans’ running backs.
He displayed his complete repertoire with speed off the edges, counter moves to work back inside, powerful bull rushes that backed his man up and a beautifully executed spin move to sack Schaub to top it all off.
Elvis Dumervil: B
Stats: 2 tackles, 1 QB hit
Dumervil was signed to be a pass-rushing specialist, but he showed some versatility in this game. Of course, he was frequently in the Houston backfield while flying off the edges to attack Schaub, but he was used in a variety of ways.
He did a good job of setting the edge against the run and showed the high motor to chase down a run on the other side of the field.
He also dropped back into coverage a couple of times—and did so quite well.
Courtney Upshaw: B-
Stats: 3 solo tackles, 1 TFL
Upshaw consistently set the edge against the Texans’ running backs and made a number of good tackles against them when they ran or were involved in the screen game.
Pernell McPhee: C+
Stats: 1 tackle, 1 QB hit
McPhee was used as a situational pass-rusher, and he demonstrated a good use of hands to shed his blocker and hit Schaub right as he threw the ball.
Lardarius Webb: B
Stats: 7 solo tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PD
Webb made a big play early in the first quarter by stopping Andre Johnson on third down to hold Houston to a field goal. He made a number of other good tackles also, but allowed a few completions.
Jimmy Smith: B-
Stats: 6 solo tackles, 1 PD
Smith played well for the majority of the game, but Houston got the better of him on a couple of plays. He allowed three completions to men he was covering, and had some trouble locating the football.
He was called for an early “Illegal Contact” penalty when he bit on a double-move and almost got beaten deep.
Corey Graham: C
Stats: 3 solo tackles
Graham made a number of nice plays in his limited snaps. He set the edge on a running play and made an impressive diving tackle across the middle of the field.
James Ihedigbo: A+
Stats: 9 tackles (5 solo), 2 TFL, 2 PD
Fans saw his digging celebration numerous times, as Ihedigbo was constantly around the ball and making plays.
He played an exceptional game in all phases of defense. He was great in run support, quickly reacting to plays and making tackles around the line of scrimmage and in the open field. He also played excellent man coverage and prevented a third-down completion to Owen Daniels in the red zone.
Ihedigbo displayed his terrific instincts and closing speed, snuffing out a number of quick screens and making a couple of tackles behind the line of scrimmage.
Matt Elam: B
Stats: 5 tackles (4 solo), 1 pass defended
Elam played very well, but had a few plays where he was a little slow to react. His instincts will only improve with time, and he was impressive for a rookie. He was lined up in man coverage a couple of times and made a big stop by preventing a completion to Daniels.
The rookie was also around the line of scrimmage a fair bit, but he missed a tackle by being overzealous on a draw play.
Shaun Draughn: C
Stats: 2 kick returns for 53 yards (average of 26.5 yards per return)
Draughn had a bad return and a good one, leading to his average grade.
Sam Koch: B+
Stats: 4 punts for 194 yards (average of 48.5 yards per punt)
Koch had a good average and was fighting terrible field position to start the game.
Tandon Doss: A+
Stats: 2 punt returns for 93 yards (average of 46.5 yard per return), 1 TD
Doss made the play of the game: an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown that gave the Ravens the separation they needed. He had a good return on his other attempt, too and has been phenomenal as a returner since re-signing with the Ravens before Week 2.
Justin Tucker: A
Stats: 3-of-3 FGM (28 yards, 43 yards and 45 yards), 2-of-2 on extra points
Tucker bounced back from a terrible outing in Week 2 and nailed all of his kicks.