Sunday, November 16, 2008

Postgame Report Card: Ravens 10, Giants 30

The word of the game is... painful. Painful to watch a proud defense get steamrolled in the first quarter. Painful to watch a rally turn into a rout on a missed catch intercepted for a touchdown. Painful to watch a young quarterback get hung out to dry by the absence of a supporting cast.

The Ravens, as alluded to earlier, nearly made this a game as they rallied to within ten points at the end of the third quarter. Then Derrick Mason, who otherwise had a very good game, let a well thrown pass go through his hands and get intercepted for a Giants touchdown. And that was the ballgame.

True, the Ravens still had time. But the defense let in another long Giants score and the coaching staff phoned it in during the fourth quarter, running draws and short passes instead of attempting to mount a serious comeback. Very, very sad.

I’m going to keep this report card brief for all of our sakes.

Offense - Overall Grade: C-
Quarterbacks: B

Joe Flacco was not as bad as his statistics indicate. Outside of one egregious mistake, Joe Flacco played an excellent game considering he had zero running game and very few weapons to throw to. Not to mention he was playing in New York with a hostile crowd and one of the fiercest pass rushes in the league. He made a couple of very big runs and some very heads-up plays. Joe Flacco was not the reason the Ravens lost.
Running Backs: D-
They couldn’t find the correct running lanes, the screens were very poorly run. Sure, blocking and running have something of a chicken-and-the-egg effect, but Joe Flacco should not be a better runner than Willis McGahee. Period.
Wide Receivers: D
And so we return to the point… where is everyone else? Again, Derrick Mason was the only receiver to make a significant impact. And speaking of which, Mason had a good day but his drop cost the Ravens any chance of victory.
Tight Ends: D
No production, ineffective blocking. End of story.
Offensive Line: C
Credit to decently handling the Giants’ front four in pass protection. Disgraceful job run blocking.

Defense - Overall Grade: C-
Defensive Line: D+

This was the first, and let’s hope it’s the last, time that this group was manhandled. I don’t see this happening again.
Linebackers: D+
The Ravens had the No. 1 rush defense in the league. So much for that.
Defensive Backs: C+
At the end of the day, it actually wasn’t a terrible day for the secondary. The tackling was poor and the coverage wasn’t great, but it’s important to consider that the front seven’s failures left a large burden on this group to both cover and provide run support. Rolle seemed to hit his stride after being beaten early in the game.

Special Teams - Overall Grade: C+
Kicker: D

That blocked kick was inexcusable; Stover kicked it far too low, and the block is all on him. That block led to another Giants touchdown. Inexcusable for the vet. Great kickoffs by Hauschka.
Punter: C+
A bit of a manic day for Koch, but not terrible.
Returners: B+
While Figurs never broke the big one, he had his best return day in a while. He showed that early season burst and ran with confidence and didn’t dance. This is a very good sign for the Ravens, who need the old Yamon Figurs back.
Coverage: B+
Decent blocking and a very good job bottling up the Giants return men. Congratulations, here’s a graham cracker.

Coaching - Overall Grade: C
Offensive: B-

Cam Cameron wasn’t the one missing blocks on the running plays, missing the open lanes, and giving the ball away. I believe the game plan he tried to implement was solid, and the passing plays were designed to counter the Giants’ quick pressure. I do consider him partly liable, however, for this team laying down in the fourth quarter.
Defensive: D+
Credit to this group for sticking in there in the second and third quarters, but the way the defense came out for this game was shameful. Rex Ryan would be the first person to say as much; the Ravens have a high standard for their defense and the buck stops with Rex.

And for my MVP/LVP...
MVP (Most Valuable Player) –Joe Flacco–
He kept his composure and kept the Ravens in the game, making plays with his arm and his feet. One interception was on him, but the crucial pick for a touchdown (as has been documented) was not.
LVP (Least Valuable Player) –Willis McGahee– I’ll stop harping on Derrick Mason’s drop for now, because without him the Ravens wouldn’t have been in a position to come back. However, Willis needed to show up big time in this game and he could not, putting all the pressure on Flacco and a passing attack sorely lacking for big weapons.

(Photo Credit: AP)

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