Joe Flacco had one costly interception in the first half, in the red zone nonetheless. It ended a streak of 125 consecutive completions in the red zone without a pick. Flacco was asked to do a lot against an underrated defense that took away the running game. Flacco held his own, throwing for 356 yards and a touchdown. He was asked to throw the ball 46 times in the rain and did the best he could against a lot of pressure sent his way.
Running back: B-plus
Ray Rice couldn't get going throughout the game, running for 49 yards on 18 carries. Most of this was due to Cleveland stacking the box and making it a point to take away that aspect of the Baltimore's offense. With Rice stalled in the running game, he was still able to get 47 yards receiving on eight catches. Bernard Pierce showed some flashes, running for 48 yards on six carries. Pierce offers a change of pace to Rice and this game surely helped his confidence out a lot.
Wide receiver: A-minus
The receivers did a good job getting open underneath with Cleveland trying to take away the deep ball in its Cover 2. Anquan Boldin had 131 yards and Torrey Smith had 97 yards with a touchdown. Boldin, in particular, made some highlight-worthy grabs, making eight of his nine receptions in the second half. Tandon Doss even caught a deep ball down the left sideline that went for 39 yards.
Tight end: B
With Cleveland pressuring Flacco, the tight ends were asked to block more than they had in the past three games. Ed Dickson was asked to block on 22 of his 40 snaps. Dennis Pitta blocked on 26 of his 62 snaps. Neither tight end was active in the receiving game, catching zero passes total. With the need for extra blocking, Dickson and Pitta contributed in a different facet of the game than what they've been used to of late.
Offensive line: C
The Browns ran a lot of stunts and movement to confuse the young linemen. Ramon Harewood and Kelechi Osemele had their worst games this year. The Browns were able to record four sacks and six quarterback hits on Flacco. With two first-year starters on the line, Cleveland mixed up its gameplan up front to confuse Baltimore's line, which worked. As the season continues, the young linemen will need to adjust to identify certain defensive packages earlier.
Defensive line: C
The defensive line, outside of Haloti Ngata, once again didn't get much of a push up front. It's beginning to be a concern, considering the three linemen need to occupy enough space for the linebackers to get a pass rush to the quarterback. In the second half, Brandon Weeden had plenty of time to throw and made enough plays to almost bring his team all the way back.
Speaking of the pass rush, the linebackers only picked up one sack, which was Paul Kruger's first of the year. For the most part, Kruger, Courtney Upshaw and Albert McClellan were stonewalled. The linebackers fared well against the run, holding Trent Richardson to 47 yards rushing. Despite the turnover on defense, the Ravens have been able to stay strong against the run.
Defensive backs: B-minus
Though the Ravens gave up over 300 passing yards for the third consecutive week, this unit picked up the play of the game with Cary Williams' 63-yard interception returned for a touchdown. The secondary gave up some big plays down the stretch as Weeden got more comfortable, but were able to do enough to keep Cleveland from extending the game.
Special teams: C
A lot went wrong on special teams against Cleveland. Justin Tucker missed his first kick of the season, though it was in the rain. Sam Koch mishandled a snap which resulted in an aborted extra point. Deonte Thompson ran back a kick in the back of the end zone which resulted in a drive beginning at the Baltimore 11 yard line. It was the first game with glaring miscues, though each mistake is correctable.
It would have been easy for the coaching staff to vary from the gameplan as the rain began to pour. But the coaches trusted Flacco and let him throw with Cleveland loading the box to take Rice out of the game. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees, though, is going to be in a predicament all season as long as the majority of his blitzes don't reach the quarterback. He likes to blitz and wants to. But the personnel is making things difficult for him. Continue to expect a lot of bend-but-don't-break defense until Terrell Suggs returns.
Total game score: 2.7 (B-minus).
Last week -- QB: B-plus, RB: B-plus, WR: A-minus, TE: B-plus, OL: B, DL: B-minus, LB: C-plus, DB: C-minus, ST: A-minus, coaching: B-plus. Total game score: 2.3 (C-plus).
Year to date grades -- QB: 3.1, RB: 3.2, WR: 3.0, TE: 3.2, OL: 2.6, DL: 2.4, LB: 2.1, DB: 2.5, ST: 3.2, coaching: 3.0. Total year to date score: 2.8 (B-minus).
Here's the scale -- A: 4.0, A-minus: 3.7, B-plus: 3.3, B: 3.0, B-minus: 2.7, C-plus: 2.3, C: 2.0, C-minus: 1.7, D: 1.0, F: 0.
Ravens Grades: Evaluating the Browns game
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