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Report Card: Ravens vs. Patriots

By: Bobby Lubaszewski

Torrey Smith lost his brother early Sunday morning but was able to put everything together and have a great game and help the Ravens to a victory over the Patriots, avenging last year’s AFC Championship loss.

Nail biter does not even begin to describe the Baltimore Ravens 31-30 last second victory over the New England Patriots. Sunday Night’s match up was a nail biting, hair pulling, heart attack causing emotional rollercoaster. Between the questionable officiating, back and forth scoring, and last second heroics from quarterback Joe Flacco and kicker Justin Tucker, Ravens fans were left on the edge of their seats throughout the entirety of this game.

The Ravens came out slow, quickly falling behind 13-0 in the game’s opening quarter, before rallying from behind. Baltimore scored 14 second quarter points to cut their deficit to 20-14 at the half. Then, after a back and forth third, the Ravens surged late in the fourth. Flacco found wide receiver Torrey Smith in the back of the end zone with 4:01 remaining in the game, capping a 92-yard drive to bring the Ravens within two points, 30-28. Then, two controversial calls and a stadium-echoing, expletive-filled chant later, Baltimore forced the Patriots to punt with 2:01 left in the game.

Next, Flacco put together one of the best drives of his young career. The quarterback hit wide receiver Jacoby Jones on a 24 yard pass on first down. Two plays later, Flacco connected with his new favorite target, tight end Dennis Pitta for 17 more yards. Then, with 52 seconds left to play, Flacco looked for Jones deep. The pass fell incomplete, but resulted in a defensive pass interference, a play that set up Tucker’s game winning 27 yard field goal.

The game may not have been the Ravens best. The game may not have been pretty. But the Ravens left M&T Bank Stadium Sunday night with the win, their first regular season victory against the New England Patriots.


Quarterback: A

Besides a first quarter interception, quarterback Joe Flacco played a relatively flawless game. The young gunslinger finished Sunday night’s showdown completing 28-of-39 passes for 383 yards and three touchdowns. Flacco also coordinated a magnificent two-minute drill to put the Ravens in field goal range, setting up the eventual game winner from kicker Justin Tucker.

Running Back: B+

Despite facing a formidable front seven, running back Ray Rice finished the game with 101 yards and a touchdown on 20 carriers, while also adding five catches and 49 receiving yards. Still, Rice was not a major factor down the stretch as the Ravens leaned heavily on Flacco and the passing game.

Receivers: B+

On the heels of his younger brother’s death, Torrey Smith put on a show, snagging six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Fellow wide receiver Jacoby Jones also had a breakout game, grabbing three catches for 86 yards, including a big catch on the game’s final drive. Jones also drew a defensive pass interference that set up Tucker’s game winning field goal.

Tight End Dennis Pitta added five catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. All in all, eight different players recorded a reception.

Offensive Line: B

The Ravens offensive line showed signs of improvement Sunday Night. Guards Marshal Yanda and Ramon Harewood, along with center Matt Birk, managed to contain Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork and Ravens offensive tackles Micahel Oher and Kelechi Osemele also turned in above average games. This unit is still far from the league’s best, but it is at least moving in the right direction.

Defensive Line: C

For the second straight week, the Ravens defensive line did okay against the run, but failed to generate any sort of consistent pass rush. Moving forward, the Ravens will need better play from its defensive line, especially end Parnell McPhee, who the team was expecting to play a much larger role in 2012.

Linebackers: C+

The line backing corps played well, not great. Inside line backers Ray Lewis and Dannell Ellerbe combined for 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks, but outside line backers Paul Kruger and Courtney Upshaw managed just 7 tackles combined and were non-factors in the pass rush. This group will need to improve down the stretch, especially when it comes to rushing the passer.

Terrell Suggs’ absence has been glaringly apparent these first three weeks.

Secondary: C+

If you ignore the play of corner back Cary Williams, the secondary had a solid game. Safeties Bernard Pollard and Ed Reed made plays all over the field and cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith also turned in decent performances. The obvious weak link was Williams, who Brady attacked constantly.

Brady finished the game with 335 yards passing and a touchdown.

Special Teams: B

The special teams did all of the little things they needed to do to win the game. Returnmen Deonte Thompson and Jones had several substantial returns, the kick coverage units did not allow any big plays, and, of course, Tucker hit the game-winning field goal as time expired.

Coaching: C-

It was evident early in the first quarter that the Ravens were not as well prepared for this game as the Patriots, especially defensively. Luckily, coach Harbaugh and his two coordinators were able to make the necessary adjustments and eventually squeak out the big win in the game’s waning seconds.

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