Ravens 34, Bengals 3: Grading the Ravens

ExtremeRavens .comCorrespondent IDecember 1, 2008

Quarterback: B+

Flacco had his best statistical game of the season. He threw for 280 yards, a pair of touchdowns, and had several successful rush attempts as well. But even so, Joltin’ Joe left something to be desired.

While the heavy pass rush was hardly his fault, Flacco was not at his in terms of decision-making. He seemed just a second behind at times, leading to incomplete passes and scrambling throw-aways.

Running backs: B+

Le’Ron McClain topped 80 yards for the second straight game and pancaked the Bengals defense. His quick feet continue to impress, especially given his size and look - he looks like a fullback because he is a fullback.

Ray Rice saw limited playing time and limited success. Willis McGahee did not play, which has to leave us all wondering what’s going on. Regardless, the running game was successful, but not perfect.

Wide Receivers: A

Last week it was the defensive backs who got an A for perhaps the first time in our report card’s history… The only thing less likely? Giving an A to the receiving corps, and yet, here we are. Derrick Mason was his usual steady self.

Todd Heap found his way into the mix, including a touchdown reception. And then Mark Clayton showed up. Clayton proved that with a good quarterback, receivers do not need to be wide open. They are receivers for a reason—they can catch. (more…)

Offensive Line: C+

The Ravens offensive line is still struggling with youth and injuries, but it is holding its own. In both run and pass protection, the offensive line had troubles. The problems were more noticeable in pass protection as Joe Flacco found himself flushed out of the pocket or hit just about every time he dropped back to throw.

Defensive Line: A+

The Ravens front four had an outstanding game. Haloti Ngata and Trevor Pryce were all over QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jordan Palmer. For most of the game, Fitzpatrick could not even get a throw off without being knocked in the arm or having the ball deflected at the line of scrimmage. Amazingly, none of those tipped passes found their way into the hands of a Ravens defender.

Linebackers: B+

The Ravens linebacking crew was just fine. Each player in the unit was mentioned at one time or another for making plays. Suggs, Scott and Lewis consistently found their way into the Bengals backfield. It may not go down as the most memorable game by any of these players, but they were all solid.

Defensive Backs: A-

The unit was certainly helped by  the efforts of the front-seven. Offenses have trouble completing passes when they cannot even get the ball past the line of scrimmage. Even so, the Ravens secondary had a great game. With the exception of TJ Houshmandzadej's big reception in the first half, the entire unit had Houshmandzadej and Ocho Cinco shut down all game. Bottom line: no pass interference or holding penalties, but lots and lots of shutdown coverage. Jim Leonhard snuck in the team's only interception and returned for a touchdown as well, which never hurts.

Special Teams: B

They are showing improvement, at least. Sam Koch had one of the best days of his career. Matt Stover hit all of his kicks. Steven Hauschka did a fine job on kickoffs, but the coverage unit still showed some weakness. Yamon Figurs continues to be the ultimate weak link.

Coaching: A

Hard to find any fault with John Harbaugh, Rex Ryan or Cam Cameron this week. To reuse what has already been said often: this could have been a trap game for the Ravens, but it was never even close. The coaching staff had the entire team ready and it showed. The Ravens took their lead and ran away with this game. OK, you want a fault? Cam Cameron still needs to find a way to get Troy Smith on the field without using a timeout to announce it.


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