Sunday, October 5, 2008

Postgame Report Card: Titans 13, Ravens 10

The word of the game is why. That's it. The Ravens dominated most of this game, but visions of previous Ravens teams came to light. A game with great defense and inefficient offense that overall wouldn't win a big game. Tennessee was self-destructing, and Baltimore had to put keep their foot on the pedal and go. They didn't do it. The zebras may not have helped, but the Ravens should have had this game. And they know it.

Offense - Overall Grade: C-
Quarterbacks: D-
Joe Flacco had his worst game yet, we knew it would happen eventually. Had decent throwing but two interceptions and couldn't finish off the Titans on big drives. He's a rookie, so we all expected this eventually; he'll hopefully shake it off.
Running Backs: C-
Not a lot of production, but the Titans defense is very good at stopping the run. LeRon McClain had a touchdown to cap off the first 2nd half drive and McGahee did a lot of running, getting gains where there shouldn't have been any. But again, not much production.
Wide Receivers: C
Nothing spectacular, nothing that killed the team. Derrick Mason had two key first downs on a 4th quarter drive and Mark Clayton did pretty well today. But again, the Ravens need more playmakers from their wide receivers to help Flacco.
Tight Ends: B
Todd Heap exists! Had four catches and took a lot of hits with the ball and blocking. It is good to see him back, Flacco really needs a target in short yardage situations down the middle.
Offensive Line: C-
It is hard to criticize the line for the playcalling Cam Cameron employs, a conservative running-first offense. And going up against a dominating Tennessee defensive line. They did decently, Flacco was never sacked, but he was constantly hurried which put him in bad spots, and there weren't many blitzes at all from the Titans. Protection should be better, and too many false starts, including a key one near the end of the first half which cost the Ravens a chance to better their field position for Matt Stover.

Defense - Overall Grade: A-
Note: The last drive is in excusable for the Ravens to allow a touchdown. But frankly, the offense could have sealed the deal and the referees didn't help either. The whole game, the defense played a tremendous game.
Defensive Line: A-
Chris Johnson was contained very well with only one rushing first down. Also, Justin Bannan with a great interception in the first quarter that was batted up by Haloti Ngata. Overall great day.
Linebackers: B
Ray Lewis and Bart Scott had some monster tackles and helped keep the running game down. Kerry Collins couldn't find much across the middle until the end of the 2nd half. Only problem was that they allowed the Titans tight ends to get key catches on the final drive.
Secondary: A
Chris McAllister and Frank Walker completely shut down the Titans WR core, forcing them to depend on the tight ends. Even with Samuri Rolle out and Fabian Washington getting hurt nothing could get done down field. Only issue is the holding call on Walker that nullified an interception.

Special Teams - Overall Grade: B-
Kicker: B-
I'm starting to wonder if Matt Stover has the distance to be an NFL kicker anymore. He missed a 45-yarder, and still hasn't gotten a field goal past 40 yards this year. But, he hit a 38-yarder and converted an extra point.
Punter: B+
Good job by Sam Koch overall today, with two punts inside the 20. A touchback on his final attempt could have been better, but overall a great day.
Returners: B-
Never had much chance, only one punt return for Jim Leonhard and one kickoff return for Yamon Figurs. No turnovers and nothing special.
Coverage: D+
Not a good day on coverage, a kickoff return had to be stopped with a horse collar tackle by Corey Ivy and a lot of Titans yards came on special teams.

Coaching - Overall Grade: C+
Offensive: C-
Overall, the playcalling wasn't bad and Flacco wasn't put in terrible spots to throw. But clock management towards the end of both halves were very bad and the offense never got under control. More discipline was needed.
Defensive: B+
Rex Ryan and Co. did great until the last drive, Collins was well pressured and the Titans rushing game did nothing. The last drive wasn't good, but one drive does not a day make.

MVP: Ray Lewis
Had five tackles and deflected a pass, but more led the Ravens defense to dominate. With the game being very chippy, he did well to control certain aspects. Though he couldn't do everything to control the penalties, he did a very good job.
LVP: Joe Flacco
It's hard, but I have to give this one to Flacco. Two interceptions for the rookie, and trying to force passes into tight coverage on the run isn't smart. But, he'll learn from his mistakes.

Now for the extra category:
Referees: F-
Note: Before you all read this, I am not blaming the outcome on the game on the referees. The Ravens lost because they didn't finish the Titans off and allowed an 80-yard TD drive at the end of the game.

It has been a bad year for NFL referees with the issues of Ed Hochuli dominating the headlines for days. Add Bill Carollo's crew to this list, which ironically includes Phil "Heads not Tails" Luckett. Both teams, equally, were severely undisciplined, and personal fouls were being called all games. But nothing was done to control the field. A lot of penalties were called but nothing was done to control the teams. The referees were not doing their jobs.

On a false start, the whistles must blow and stop the play. But on many of the false starts and encroachments, the whistles either didn't blow or couldn't be heard and they continued. The play has to stop! Don't allow the play to continue! Everyone in the crew blow the whistle or else everyone will continue to go, that is basic football!

Because the referee crew didn't blow the whistle on the final Titans scoring drive, Suggs went after the quarterback and hit Collins near the neck, which was called unnecessary roughness because they crew thought the hit was on the helmet. The play should have been blown dead before the "personal foul" because of the false start and Suggs didn't hit Collins in the head! And if Suggs's "hit" is a personal foul, how is Albert Haynesworth's cheap takedown of Joe Flacco on an encroachment not one? Haynesworth is known as a dirty player after his kick on the unhelmeted Cowboys player and Suggs has never been known as one.

The Ravens should have won this game, but once again the referees screwed up an NFL game by making terrible decisions on what is or isn't a personal foul. Bill Carollo and his crew should be ashamed of himself.
(Photo credit: AP)

No comments: