The word of the game is......cool. Overwhelming defense and some surprising offense combined for a solid all-around game for the Ravens. Ray Rice impressed his family in a big way, Rex Ryan shows his brother about defense, and Troy Smith shows some flare. This was a game the Ravens needed to win if only because they are a superior team to the Raiders, and that is exactly what they did.
The Ravens have gotten back a winning record, going to 4-3 as they go on the road for their next three games.
Offense - Overall Grade: B-
Overall a decent day for Joe Flacco. Though he had potential for big mistakes with his passes, including a few nearly intercepted, as well as only completed half of his passes, he showed his strong arm with a 70-yard pass to Demetrius Williams and a 40-yarder to Derrick Mason (taken back by penalty). And welcome back Troy Smith. Smith got in on a few plays to run the option plus had a very cool pass to Flacco, who made an amazing catch for 43 yards.
Running Backs: B+
This was Ray Rice's day, getting eight rushes for 64 yards and showing tremendous speed, including converting a 3rd and 20 on a short pass from Flacco. LeRon McClain didn't have a bad day with 32 yards on seven rushes. Willis McGahee was not in his element, only getting 58 yards on 23 carries plus losing a fumble in the 4th quarter that gave the Raiders a big opportunity. He did have a touchdown though. But Ray Rice was the star today, and would have had a touchdown if not for a holding call.
Wide Receivers: B-
The WR corps had only two catches. The 70-yarder to Williams and a short catch to Mason. The gameplan mainly focused on running, and Flacco often found running backs in the flat or tight ends across the middle.
Tight Ends: B
Todd Heap had two catches and Daniel Wilcox did too. Nothing special, but they helped Flacco a great deal with passing up the middle.
Offensive Line: C-
The line was tested a number time with the constant running of the ball, plus Flacco wasn't sacked. But Chris Chester and Jared Gaither each received two holding calls, which nullified a 40-yard catch by Mason and a touchdown run by Rice. Plus a false start inside the five. The line has to be more disciplined than that.
Defensive Line: A
Without Darren McFadden, Oakland's running game was non-existent. Justin Fargas only got 24 yards on 12 catches plus Haloti Ngata got a sack. Solid game for the line, only outshined by the.........
Terrell Suggs had two big tackles including a sack, but was leading the way on defense, clearing the way for other players like JaMeel McClain and Jarret Johnson. The corps sacked Jamarcus Russell three times including one for a safety, and had a big hand in stopping the running game. Ray Lewis had four tackles on the day and nearly an interception.
They were fine for the first 30 minutes. In the second half, Russell was torching the secondary with long passes, and Fabian Washington was not covering well, including having bad coverage on a long pass to Zach Miller. Corey Ivy lead the Ravens with six tackles, which I and Windsor agree is not a good thing. They gave Oakland a chance when they seemed down and out.
Special Teams - Overall Game: A-
Matt Stover converted to sub-40 yard field goals and three extra points, nothing more needed.
Sam Koch had three punts inside the 20 plus a touchback.
Yamon Figurs may be out of a job, since Rice had 54 yards returned on kickoffs and had decent speed. Jim Leonhard had a decent return day on punts as well with a 46-yard return, though not much on the other three.
Johnnie Higgins wasn't anything special on kickoffs and got nowhere on punt returns.
Coaching - Overall Grade: B+
Cam Cameron got to pull out a few new toys today, including the Troy Smith option, running Flacco as a wide receiver, and running the ball with Ray Rice many times. Also, Flacco was throwing many more long passes than normal. However, the passing and running more becoming predictable towards the end of the game, but the solid offense in the first half did the job in the end.
The Oakland running game was shut down and the blitzes were well called to make Russell real uncomfortable. The second half could have been better, but only 10 points scored by Oakland was real solid today. Rex Ryan outdueled his brother, but as Chris McAlister has said, Rob Ryan is allowed in the Ravens office anytime, except when they are playing the Raiders.
MVP: Terrell Suggs
The leader on defense as he cleared the way on many big defensive plays. He ended with two tackles and a sack, but the stats don't tell the story of his leadership. I guess he had a "bounty" on Jamarcus Russell......
LVP: Willis McGahee
Not very effective on offense and had a key turnover that almost let Oakland back into the game.
After the game, the Gatorade bath went to Rex Ryan. I love how well the Ravens players like the coaches, all of them. The Ravens (4-3) hit the road for their second game against Cleveland. Time to remember the Art Modell days.........
(Photo credits: AP (Team photo, Ryan brothers, Flacco catch))