Joe Flacco just continues to impress. He made throws under pressure, checked down when he had no one open, took a beating, and picked apart the Vikings’ pass defense all day long. He was poised, mobile, tough, and kept the team in the game. It’s not too shabby when you throw for 385 yards, two touchdowns, and no picks.
Running back: B+
Ray Rice gets an A+++, but Willis McGahee’s miserable performance (seven carries for three yards) really didn’t help matters. If Flacco wasn’t the Ravens’ star today, then Rice was.
He runs hard, finds holes, beats defenders one-on-one, and is easily the team’s best weapon on offense. He’s a dynamo. Oh yeah, and aside from the two touchdowns on the ground, he had 10 catches for 117 yards. Wow.
Wide Receiver: B+
These guys played tough and made some big plays when they needed to, most notably Mark Clayton’s nice grab for the touchdown against Karl Paymah. Derrick Mason almost got to a hundred yards and Todd Heap and Kelley Washington both contributed.
Offensive Line: B
For all the talk about Jared Allen being the difference-maker in this game, he was basically erased by a phenomenal game from rookie Michael Oher. Flacco was under duress periodically, but he had time to throw in the fourth quarter when it mattered.
On the ground, the line couldn’t budge the Vikings’ front four at all until they ran a few trap-draws in the fourth quarter to open up space for Rice. There were very few holes on plays where Flacco started out under center.
Defensive Line: C+
They got some pressure on Favre, notably Pryce coming through the line on third-and-long after Ray Lewis’s sack, but the Vikings ran for 5.4 yards per carry and there were too many holes for Adrian Peterson.
Tavares Gooden was impressive in leading the team in tackles and running Peterson down from behind to save a touchdown late in the game, and Lewis plugged some holes and came up with a crucial fourth-quarter sack. However, there were at least two plays where they failed even to touch Peterson, which led to big gains.
Defensive backs: F
If I could give these guys an F- or a G, I would. This was brutal. The secondary lost the game. They can’t cover, they can’t tackle, and some of them can’t catch the guys that beat them.
This unit and some questionable coaching lost the Ravens the game. There are halfbacks in the NFL that would have completed all three touchdowns that Favre threw today because his receivers were so open.
Dawan Landry missed tackles, was burned by Sidney Rice on the slant that set up the Vikings’ first field goal, and generally was so useless that getting blocked out of the play on Lewis’s sack was the only useful thing he did all day. Tom Zbikowski or Haruki Nakamura should draw the next start.
Special teams: C
This would have been higher but for Hauschka’s 44-yard miss on the final play of the game. It’s a hard kick, but one that an NFL kicker has to be able to knock through the uprights.
Sam Koch dropped a few punts inside the ten, but the coverage never quite got there to down them. Lardarius Webb was very good on kick returns and should be allowed to return punts instead of the utterly ineffectual Chris Carr.
Greg Mattison brought very few blitzes again and rushed just two or three guys on multiple third-and-long occasions. The corners play extremely soft coverage considering that there’s no pressure, and there was no safety help over the top on either of Favre’s long bombs.
On offense, after running the ball far too often in the first half, Cam Cameron finally opened up the playbook and let Flacco pick the Vikings’ defense to shreds. Had they thrown the ball more in the first half, they might have been able to win.
Heroes of the week: Joe Flacco and Ray Rice
Goats of the week: Greg Mattison and the entire secondary, with the possible exceptions of Ed Reed and Lardarius Webb.