Ravens Grades: Evaluating the Chargers game

RavensInsider.com publisher Jason Butt hands out his weekly report card following Baltimore's 16-13 overtime win over San Diego.

Quarterback: C

Through three and a half quarters, Joe Flacco had 137 yards and little success. Once the Ravens got the ball back with under 7:51 remaining, Flacco turned his play up a notch, completing deep passes to Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, with intermediate routes to Anquan Boldin and Dennis Pitta, not to mention screens and check downs to Ray Rice. He finished with 355 yards and a touchdown, though the stat line does Flacco a disservice considering how poor he played until the end.

Running back: A

Ray Rice had a solid day in both phases of the offense, getting plenty of touches throughout. He finished with 22 carries for 97 yards and eight carries for 67 yards. Here's where I contradict myself though: Cementing an A for the running backs came down to Rice's fourth-and-29 conversion, which kept Baltimore alive. With no one open downfield, Flacco checked the ball down to Rice, who made the play of the NFL season. If Rice doesn't pick the first down up, everyone's likely screaming, "Why didn't Flacco toss the ball past the marker?" Maybe a few did immediately after the pass, but once Rice had a chance to make the play, all of those ill feelings went away, I'm sure. The offense might be evolving into one catering more to what Flacco can do. But Rice is still the heart and soul of the unit.

Wide receiver: B

Outside of a 54-yard catch and run from Torrey Smith, the receivers didn't have much going for them until the last half of the fourth quarter and overtime. But when they were called upon, they made the needed plays. Smith made an incredible catch on a back shoulder throw that put the Ravens in field goal range in overtime. JaCoby Jones had a couple of deep catches late in the game. Anquan Boldin was solid throughout. Tandon Doss even had a nice nine-yard grab late.

Tight end: B

With Ed Dickson spraining his knee, Dennis Pitta was the only receiving option at tight end for most of the second half. Pitta would up with 42 yards and the offense's first touchdown since the third quarter of the Oakland game. Pitta was Mr. Reliable down the stretch, keeping drives alive with a couple of key first downs.

Offensive line: C-minus

Maybe this grade should be worse, and some of you might opine that it needs to be. Either way, giving up five sacks is unacceptable. Chargers OLB Antwan Barnes had another outstanding day, tallying two sacks and a forced fumble (the Ravens were fortunate Michael Oher, who blew the assignment, was there to recover it). Shaun Phillips had a good day getting after the quarterback, recording a sack as well. Jah Reid had a bad outing, and Kelechi Osemele -- after looking fairly solid the last couple of weeks -- had one of his worst games of the season.

Defensive line: A-minus

The defensive line came to play, with Arthur Jones stepping up in a big way. Jones recorded two sacks, which were also the first of his career. Terrence Cody and Ma'ake Kemoeatu were able to occupy blockers, and Haloti Ngata seemed to have more spring in his step. Sure, the Chargers offensive line was down two starters, but it was still an impressive afternoon for the Ravens' defensive line.

Linebackers: A

The linebackers played a big role in keeping San Diego from scoring more than three points in the second half as they eliminated the threat of a running game. San Diego rushers only accounted for 91 yards on the ground on Sunday, forcing the Chargers into a one-dimensional unit. Linebackers also accounted for four of Baltimore's six sacks, with one apiece coming from Paul Kruger, Terrell Suggs, Courtney Upshaw and Dannell Ellerbe. And Brendon Ayanbadejo's play off the bench should be commended, especially after making a first down stop and a third down pass deflection which forced the Chargers to punt on their second possession in overtime.

Defensive backs: B-plus

Cary Williams finished Sunday strong, getting a key pass deflection that forced a punt on San Diego's first possession in overtime. Corey Graham also broke up a third down pass in regulation, and Chykie Brown shared the tackle with Ayanbadejo on a first down play on San Diego's second possession in overtime. Bernard Pollard and Ed Reed had a solid outing on the back end, though Pollard could've done without the high hit that drew a penalty flag that helped set up the San Diego field goal in the fourth quarter. Though Pollard led with his shoulder, the officials will still throw the flag if the hit is made high and near -- the key word -- the head and neck area. I'm not agreeing with the rule. But as a player, in that situation, you have to figure out a way to not make contact there. I know, easier said than done.

Special teams: A-minus

Justin Tucker's become a rock star in Baltimore. Asked to tie the game at 13-13, he did with no time remaining in regulation. When asked to win the game with 1:07 remaining in overtime, he did, kicking the game-winner. Sam Koch had another tremendous day punting, averaging 46.5 yards per kick. Koch also was able to land three of his punts inside the 20. The coverage units kept Chargers return specialist Chris Carr from only getting 36 total yards on punts and kickoffs. And Jacoby Jones was able to spring a 23-yard punt return to set up Baltimore's final drive in good field position (though the offense went backwards for a moment before Rice's play of the season.)

Coaching: B

This grade is indicative of defensive vs. offensive coaching. Dean Pees called a wonderful game defensively. Cam Cameron, not so much. However, with the way the offense looked in the last half of the fourth quarter and overtime, it might be time for Cameron to open up the offense more on the road. With that stated, the fourth-and-inches run to the right call looked to be on Flacco's shoulders, as he chose to run to the heavy side of the defense out of the package he was given.

Once the Ravens got the lead in the first quarter, the coaches played it conservative on offense and let a defense that began fast win the game for them. In most games this strategy may not have worked. But on the road, in a hostile environment, with a lot of offensive success early, it proved to be safer than trying to force plays on offense that weren't opening up. It was an ugly win, but a win nonetheless.

Total game score: 3.1 (B)

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Last week: QB: B, RB: B, WR: B, TE: C-plus, OL: B-minus, DL: B-plus, LB: A-minus, DB: B-plus, ST: A-minus, coaching: B-plus. Total game score: 3.1 (B).

Year to date: QB: 2.7, RB: 3.4, WR: 2.8, TE: 2.8, OL: 2.4, DL: 2.3, LB: 2.5, DB: 2.8, ST: 3.5, coaching: 2.9. Total year to date: 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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