Ravens Grades: Evaluating the Patriots game

RavensInsider.com graded each position group following Baltimore's thrilling 31-30 win over the Patriots.

Quarterback: B-plus

For the game's first three possessions, it looked like Joe Flacco would have a continuation of the second half he had against Philadelphia. Not so fast. Flacco and the offense adjusted and finished with 382 yards and three touchdowns. Needing two scores to win in the fourth quarter, Flacco led the Ravens down the field for a touchdown, and then set up the game-winning field goal.

Running back: B-plus

Ray Rice had 25 total touches, which is usually a good sign for the Ravens. He had 20 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown, and also had five receptions for 49 yards. Rice was able to move the chains and keep New England honest. His presence to gash an aggressive defense limited what New England could do defensively up front, which helped open up the passing game. Bernard Pierce had four runs for 17 yards but couldn't get a needed yard on a fourth down run -- though the play call is a whole different story.

Wide receiver: A-minus

You can't say enough about Torrey Smith and what he did Sunday night. Playing with a heart filled with emotion after losing his brother to a motorcycle accident, Smith led Ravens receivers with six catches for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Jacoby Jones had a big day as well, catching three passes for 86 yards. Jones also drew the pass interference penalty that set the Ravens up with a 27-yard field goal attempt to win. Anquan Boldin added 48 yards in a great group effort.

Tight end: B-plus

Despite the Patriots keying on stopping Dennis Pitta, the third-year tight end still managed five catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown was spectacular, leaping between two Patriots defensive backs who failed to bring him down. Ed Dickson was a non-factor in the passing game, only catching two passes for five yards.

Offensive line: B

After struggling against nemesis Trent Cole, Michael Oher had perhaps his best game at left tackle, handling both Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich. The line did not surrender a sack, though one was negated due to a Patriots penalty. Ramon Harewood had another good game in run blocking and help up well against an easier front, schematically speaking. Marshal Yanda uncharacteristically had three penalties, two of which were holding calls.

Defensive line: B-minus

Haloti Ngata had a superb night, totaling nine tackles and half a sack. His half sack, shared with linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, pushed New England back to force a punt, giving the offense the chance it needed in the end to win. Though the line came up with plays at the end of the game, more will be needed in terms of a pass rush moving forward.

Linebackers: C-plus Dannell Ellerbe had his best game of his NFL career, tallying eight tackles and 1.5 sacks. Here's a guy with budding potential that seems to finally be realizing it. If the Ravens can get this kind of production from him consistently, then the group will gradually improve as the season progresses. With all the Pro Bowl quarterbacks Baltimore will face, Ellerbe should see a lot of playing time moving forward. The outside linebackers didn't get much of a rush on Tom Brady until the end, when Paul Kruger forced a hurried throw that landed incomplete. This unit still has a lot of work to do.

Defensive backs: C-minus When a cornerback leads a team in tackles in a game, it's usually a bad sign. For Cary Williams, it was. Williams recorded 10 tackles as Brady went his way early and often, targeting Brandon Lloyd in man-to-man situations. Lloyd routinely got enough separation to pick up steady gainers, though Williams did everything he could to keep the play in front of him. Still, Williams has gotten off to a slower start than expected and it showed Sunday night. Lardarius Webb had another solid game, with his tackle on Wes Welker short of the goal line early in the fourth quarter, which forced New England to settle for a field goal, being a huge play. Ed Reed and Bernard Pollard kept Brady's plays in front of them, only allowing one deep 59-yarder to Welker early in the game.

Special teams: A-minus Justin Tucker made the most of his only field goal attempt, just slipping in a game-winning kick through the right upright from 27 yards out. He had to kick it twice since the Patriots called a timeout just before the Ravens snapped the ball the first time. Sam Koch had another good day punting the ball, averaging 45.3 yards per punt and landing two inside the 20. Deonte Thompson continues to impress in the return game, averaging 27 yards each touch. And the coverage units held the Patriots to just 35 total return yards. Baltimore's special teams unit has been a pleasant surprise thus far.

Coaching: B-plus The Ravens coaches didn't force any plays like it did last week, showing they possibly learned from some of their mistakes. There was a nice balance of run and pass (39 passes, 26 runs) that kept New England from loading up on one aspect of the offense. Though the defense continues to generate pressure, defensive coordinator Dean Pees dialed up some blitzes late in the game that forced New England to give the ball back to Baltimore. The only glaring mistake was a horrible fourth-and-1 call that had Bernard Pierce carrying the ball instead of Rice, that relied on shifting Bryant McKinnie from fullback to tight end. It didn't fool or intimidate anyone, nor should it have.

Total game score: 3.0 (B).


Last week -- QB: C-plus, RB: B, WR: C-minus, TE: B, OL: C, DL: C. LB: C, DB: C-minus, ST: A-minus, coaching: C. Total game score: 2.3 (C-plus).

Year to date grades -- QB: 3.0, RB: 3.1, WR: 2.8, TE: 3.2, OL: 2.7, DL: 2.6, LB: 2.2, DB: 2.2, ST: 3.6, coaching: 2.9. 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.

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