Baltimore Ravens vs. New England Patriots: Full Roster Grades for New England
The Patriots had already clinched the AFC East title before kickoff—thanks to a 19-0 loss by the Miami Dolphins to the Buffalo Bills—but they kept themselves in contention for a first-round bye by winning in Baltimore. They just need a Week 17 win against the Buffalo Bills—or a loss by both the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts.
No matter who the Patriots face in the playoffs, they have to be feeling confident following their 41-7 victory.
Here are the complete roster grades form Week 16.
Note: Players are graded on the standard scale. Higher grades are given for splash plays, proper technique and good decisions based on the game situation. Conversely, lower grades are given for turnovers, improper technique and blown assignments.
Tom Brady: B
Brady didn't have a fantastic day statistically—he finished 14-of-26 for 172 yards and a touchdown—but he took care of the ball and kept the offense grinding down the field. His accuracy wasn't as pinpoint as normal; multiple balls hit the turf well short of their intended target.
If the Patriots are able to secure a bye, look for Brady to come out with refreshed throwing mechanics.
LeGarrette Blount: A+
Blount rushed the ball 16 times for 76 yards and two touchdowns. Equally as important, he and Stevan Ridley worked as battering rams in the fourth quarter. They drained the clock and moved the chains, ending Baltimore's chances at victory.
Stevan Ridley: A+
Ridley handled an increased workload Sunday with aplomb. He ran the ball decisively and tenaciously. Most importantly, he held on to the ball.
Stevan Ridley had 15 carries today - his most since 26 carries in Week 9 versus Pittsburgh.— Oliver Thomas (@OliverBThomas) December 23, 2013
Shane Vereen: B
Vereen didn't finish the game due to a groin injury. Before he left, he was able to score a touchdown on a short pass from Brady. If he misses some time, the Patriots will lose a matchup problem for defenses.
Brandon Bolden: B
Bolden doesn't have the same wiggle that Vereen does, but he has proven to be a solid backup on third downs. It didn't count after review, but he also had a nice tackle on Jacoby Jones on the kick-coverage unit.
James Develin: B
Develin didn't have a carry or target, but he was instrumental in opening up some holes in the run game. His versatility—he can act as a third tight end—allows the Patriots some roster flexibility on game day.
Julian Edelman: A
Edelman hauled in seven catches on 11 targets for 77 yards. He continues to be Brady's security blanket—getting the ball thrown his way in important situations—just like Wes Welker used to be.
Danny Amendola: B+
Amendola caught two of the three balls thrown in his direction, including a 34-yard reception that set up the Patriots second touchdown of the day.
Aaron Dobson: B-
Dobson made one 21-yard catch on the day but helped open things up underneath by running routes deep down the field. I'd like to see Dobson be a little more physical with the ball in the air.
Kenbrell Thompkins: I
Austin Collie: I
Josh Boyce: I
Thompkins and Boyce were inactive due to injury. Collie was active, but did not see a pass thrown in his direction.
Michael Hoomanawanui: C+
Hoomanawanui caught the only ball thrown his way for nine yards. Although he performed well in the blocking department for the majority of the day, he was called for a bad holding penalty.
Matthew Mulligan: C+
Mulligan wasn't targeted by Brady but was solid blocking for Blount and Ridley.
D.J. Williams: I
Williams was a healthy scratch. He hasn't seen the field since replacing Rob Gronkowski on the roster.
Logan Mankins: A
Josh Kline: B+
Ryan Wendell: B
Dan Connolly: B-
Marcus Cannon: C+
The Ravens totaled two sacks, but the offensive line protected Tom Brady very well. Logan Mankins didn't miss a beat at left tackle, while rookie Josh Kline more than held his own at left guard.
Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs—the best pass-rush duo Baltimore has to offer—were held to seven combined tackles and one sack.
Nate Solder: I
Solder was inactive due to injury issues.
Rob Ninkovich: B+
In addition to a sack on Joe Flacco, Ninkovich had perhaps the play of the game. He knifed inside of a blocker on a fourth-down run and was able to bring Ray Rice down just short of the line to gain. He doesn't get a lot of credit, but Ninkovich has consistently produced each and every week.
Sealver Siliga: B+
Ninkovich wouldn't have been able to make that play if Siliga didn't blow up his blocker and make Ravens running back Ray Rice hesitate for a moment in the hole. He also added a sack and totaled four total tackles.
Chandler Jones: B
Jones was pretty excited scoring on a fumble recovery late in the game, but his pressure—it wasn't as consistent as it needs to be—on Flacco allowed the Patriots defense to get off the field on a couple of occasions.
Andre Carter: B-
Carter finally showed up on the stat sheet this week. He recorded a sack and quarterback hit as well as two tackles. He is still effective running stunts with Jones.
Joe Vellano: C+
Chris Jones: C+
Jones and Vellano totaled seven tackles and helped hold the Ravens running backs to just 82 yards on 23 carries. The young duo have certainly improved as the year has progressed.
Michael Buchanan: C+
Buchanan saw some action in passing situations and looked much more disciplined. While Andre Carter might be the present, he is the future at the rush end position.
Dont'a Hightower: A-
Hightower has now put together three solid games in a row. He was stout against the run and got good depth on his drop before tipping a pass that ended up in Logan Ryan's hands.
In his postgame press conference, via Ian Logue of PatsFans.com, Belichick had some praise for Hightower:
"Hightower’s been playing pretty good. I don’t know, I’ll have to watch the film but he’s been making a lot of plays for us. It looked like he made a few more today."
Brandon Spikes: A-
Spikes bounced back from a subpar performance against the Miami Dolphins with seven tackles. In addition to a tackle for loss, Spikes' hard hits had a palpable impact on the game.
Jamie Collins: B+
Collins had another solid game in coverage. He played Dennis Pitta tough and was in on a pass deflection as well as three tackles.
Dane Fletcher: I
Fletcher was inactive due to a groin injury.
Devin McCourty: I
McCourty was knocked out of the game with a concussion and did not return. He was in good spirits following the game—in which he had two near interceptions—and said on Twitter that he was feeling better.
Thanks to everyone asking...I'm good....AFC EAST CHAMPS...they said we couldn't do it doe...haha (D-Mac)— Devin+Jason McCourty (@McCourtyTwins) December 23, 2013
Logan Ryan: A+
Ryan continued his excellent play this season with a spectacular performance against Baltimore. He displayed spectacular ball skills on his two interceptions. He could probably have added a third pick but chose to swat it to the turf on fourth down—a smart play—and take the field position.
Aqib Talib: B+
Despite Baltimore's speedy receivers, the Patriots didn't get beat over the top. Talib did a good job on Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith, keeping them in check while his teammates made plays.
Kyle Arrington: B+
Arrington recorded another sack and led the team in tackles with eight. He showed some toughness by bouncing back after a vicious pick by Dennis Pitta left him stunned.
Duron Harmon: B+
Harmon stepped in nicely for McCourty and displayed solid range. He took good angles to the sidelines and wasn't afraid to hit.
Tavon Wilson: B-
With injuries all over the field, Tavon Wilson saw some precious snaps on defense. He made the most of his opportunity, picking off backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor and returning it for a touchdown.
Alfonzo Dennard: C+
Dennard was behind Ryan on the depth chart at the outset of the game but saw his way onto the field due to injuries and sub-packages. If he can get back to form, he and the duo of Talib and Ryan are a force to be reckoned with.
Steve Gregory: C-
Gregory tweaked something in his leg early and didn't look good the rest of the game. He missed badly trying to tackle Torrey Smith.
Stephen Gostkowski: A
Gostkowski bounced back after his worst performance of the year against the Dolphins, showcasing his accurate and strong leg on kickoffs and field goals. He nailed two field goals from over 40 yards and only allowed Jacoby Jones to return two of his kickoffs.
Ryan Allen: A
Allen punted seven times on the day, averaging 47.7 yards per pick. He pinned the Ravens inside their own 20-yard line on four occasions.
Danny Aiken: A
Aiken was solid against Baltimore. Snaps were crisp and well-placed.
Matthew Slater: A
Nate Ebner: B
Chris White: B-
Marquice Cole: C+
The coverage units—especially Matthew Slater—excelled against the Ravens dynamic returners. Jones wasn't able to make a game-changing play for Baltimore.
Cole's penalty might not have mattered—the ball might have gone into the end zone if he didn't touch it—but it wasn't good situational football to handle it.
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