By Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun
8:54 PM EDT, October 17, 2010
Joe Flacco had impressive numbers and actually threw well through the first three quarters. He still doesn't step up in the pocket, but he played well enough to win. The best defense he faced Sunday were the restraints put on him by his own coaching staff late in the game.
Running backs: C
It was evident that the Patriots spent a lot of time scouting Ray Rice, and they cut off all of those cutbacks moves. There were times Rice had holes running straight and hard, but he jitterbugged too much for a team that was ready for it. Willis McGahee was missing in action. Fullback Le'Ron McClain wasn't much of a factor except for the stupid penalty he got late in the game.
Offensive line: B
Center Matt Birk played extremely well, and for most of the game the Ravens had good pass protection. Left tackle Michael Oher probably had his worst game as a professional and had problems with Vince Wilfork and Jermaine Cunningham. This unit has played well for the last three games.
When the game plan called for them to catch the ball, they delivered. The Patriots had no answers for Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Derrick Mason and tight end Todd Heap. The Patriots didn't shut the Ravens down. The Ravens shut the Ravens down.
Defensive line: C
Tackle Haloti Ngata is the MVP so far this season. He had two sacks and covered a lot of ground on the field. But the Patriots knocked the Ravens off the ball especially in the second half. The backside pursuit needs to improve, and the Ravens have to do a better job of wrapping up. With the exception of Ngata, there is no pass rush.
Strongside linebacker Jarret Johnson struggled against the run, especially getting off blocks. The Patriots did a nice job of scheming against inside linebacker Ray Lewis, and made sure they knew where he was at all times. The Ravens had a tendency to overpursue at times, and outside linebacker Terrell Suggs didn't turn it on until the second half.
The Ravens played soft in a lot of coverages, and they gave Tom Brady the short, underneath stuff. Last week, the Ravens did a good job of tackling against Denver, but there were a lot of arm tackles versus the Patriots. Cornerback Lardarius Webb bites on a lot of pump fakes, and he paid for it. Cornerback Fabian Washington was a no-show as far as run support.
Special teams: C
Billy Cundiff had kicked well all season, but was short on two Sunday, one costly in the second half. Sam Koch averaged 44.9 yards on nine punts putting five inside the 20, but the Ravens aren't getting much out of the their kickoff and punt return units. They aren't winning the field position battle as far as returns.
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