Patriots - Ravens: Report Cards

Cam Cameron had the Patriots defense reeling, then he took his foot off the gas. The Patriots run defense stepped up in a big way. And newcomer Deion Branch threw gas on the fire Tom Brady started in the fourth quarter. How each team did, with unit-by-unit grades.


   PASSING OFFENSE: A -- QB Tom Brady had another stellar fourth quarter, completing 10 of 12 passes at one point as the Patriots rallied from a 10-point deficit. Brady's overall numbers were decent outside of two interceptions (one which was a Hail Mary bomb at the end of the first half), but as usual he was at his best when it counted.

   RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- Newcomer Danny Woodhead continues to surprise everyone with his ability to find holes and keep the chains moving. This unlikely hero finished with 63 yards on 11 carries, averaging 5.7 yards per carry -- an impressive total against Baltimore's stout run defense.

   PASS DEFENSE: B-minus -- Save for the fourth quarter and overtime, in which they pitched shutouts, the pass defense still gave up too many yards and still gives up too much of a cushion in the secondary. However, they beefed up when they needed to, which is all that matters at the end of the day.

   RUSH DEFENSE: A -- Baltimore's Ray Rice finished with 88 yards, but he needed 28 carries to do so. The Patriots were sharp on first and second down against the run, which is what helped fuel the comeback. They made a big push in the fourth quarter, stopping the Ravens in back-to-back short-yardage situations to force a punt, which ultimately led to the Patriots' game-tying drive.

   SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- The Patriots had another big game on special teams, particularly punter Zoltan Mesko, who boomed a 65-yard punt in overtime that helped get the Patriots out of a deep hole in the field-position battle. Kicker Stephen Gostkowski also came up big, kicking the game-tying and game-winning field goal.

You can't find any fault with the Patriots did Sunday. There weren't many game-changing decisions to be made, but the play-calling offensively in overtime and the aggressiveness of the defense certainly helped swing the momentum in New England's direction.


   PASSING OFFENSE: B -- In the first three quarters, Joe Flacco was 20 of 23 for 226 yards and two touchdowns. In the fourth quarter and overtime, he was seven of 12 for 59 yards. Only four of Flacco's passes were thrown in the direction of a wide receiver during that last span. Derrick Mason led the Ravens with eight catches for 100 yards, but his third-down drop in the end zone early in the fourth quarter (he was hit as soon as the pass arrived) forced the Ravens to settle for a field goal.

   RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus -- Ray Rice gained over 100 yards rushing in two meetings against the Patriots last season, but he averaged only 3.1 yards a carry against them Sunday. He had to grind out 88 yards on 28 carries. The offensive line created some holes, but Rice didn't hit them fast enough. His longest run was 8 yards.

   PASS DEFENSE: C -- The Ravens played soft in a lot of coverages, and they gave Tom Brady the short, underneath stuff. The previous week, the Ravens did a good job of tackling against Denver, but there were a lot of arm tackles vs. the Patriots. Cornerback Lardarius Webb bit on a lot of pump fakes, and he paid for it. Cornerback Fabian Washington was a no-show as far as run support. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata had two sacks, and linebacker Terrell Suggs sacked Brady for the third straight meeting.

   RUSH DEFENSE: C -- The Ravens still had trouble with a Patriots ground game that was without starting running back Fred Taylor. Danny Woodhead had 63 yards on 11 carries (5.7-yard average) and broke through several arm tackles. New England also generated some big runs with wide receiver Brandon Tate (one for 22 yards) and tight end Aaron Hernandez (one for 18 yards).

Billy Cundiff has excelled on kickoffs, but he hit one out of bounds in the fourth quarter that helped the Patriots come back and tie the game in regulation. The Ravens are getting no production out of their return game. Chris Carr had one punt return for minus-1 yard. Jalen Parmele averaged 18 yards on two kickoff returns. The Ravens allowed Wes Welker to return a punt 22 yards.

After taking a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter, the Ravens played it too safe. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron stopped attacking downfield with his wide receivers and opted for short passes to Rice. Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison called too many three-man rushes, which eventually burned the Ravens.

This report courtesy of The Sports Xchange

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