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Ravens Lose Third Straight As They Fall To Broncos

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By Samuel Njoku

BALTIMORE, MD - DECEMBER 16: Running back Knowshon Moreno #27 of the Denver Broncos jumps over free safety Ed Reed #20 of the Baltimore Ravens while rushing the ball during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium on December 16, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

The Baltimore Ravens had a chance to throw their name back into the race for the 2 seed in the AFC playoff picture. Instead, they left fans with doubt as to whether they could make the postseason at all. Baltimore lost to Denver 34-17 on Sunday and now holds only a one game cushion in the AFC North.

Coaching: C- 

The Ravens fired Cam Cameron a week ago in hopes to spark an offense that has been inconsistent, and Jim Caldwell was promoted to offensive coordinator as many Ravens fans got their wish. But at least in this contest, Jim Caldwell called a horrible game. The Ravens lacked any tempo on the offensive side of the ball. It was widely assumed that Baltimore would play more of a no-huddle style of offense, but it ended up being the exception, not the norm. However, when they did get the no-huddle offense going, the Ravens looked great—raising further question marks on the deviation in game plan. It would be in their best interest to implement this style of play more in the coming weeks.

Dean Pees was once again the product of a bad situation. Jameel McClain and Dannell Ellerbe were both absent in this game, as was Ray Lewis and Bernard Pollard. When Josh Bynes is receiving the plays on the field, you know you’re in trouble.  Pees did his best in the early goings of this contest, and at times it appeared that they would be able to contain Peyton. But it was only a matter of time before Manning got the better of them.

Offense:  F

There is no one left to criticize on offense with the firing on Cam Cameron, so naturally, the blame will fall on Flacco for the offenses poor showing.  Flacco was able to pad his stats with two late touchdowns to make this game respectable. But in actuality, this may go down as one of his worst games of his career.  Simply put, Flacco couldn’t get into any kind of rhythm in this game. Was his offensive line horrible? Yes. Were the receivers covered most of the game? Absolutely. But if Flacco wants to be considered elite, he has to perform well in games like this.  He simply couldn’t get the job done.  As a result, pundits will continue to question whether he is the answer at QB for Baltimore both this year and for the future.

Ray Rice struggled mightily in this contest. He finished the day with 12 carries for 38 yards—that’s not going to get the job done. Caldwell tried to get Rice involved early on but the Broncos smothered him most of the game.  Rice will need to improve in order to take pressure away from Flacco.

Defense: D-

The defense held Peyton Manning to under 300 yards passing this game—that’s a victory for the defense. But the Ravens defense was not the same defense fans are accustomed to season. Peyton Manning moved the ball down the field with ease. The Broncos took advantage of a porous run defense with stretch plays and delays. Kudos go to Baltimore for holding Denver under 34 points. It could have been a lot worse for the Ravens.

Special Teams: A

Ed Reed alluded to the fact that the only players who showed up were Morgan Cox, Sam Koch, Justin Tucker, and Jacoby Jones. He was correct in his assessment.  The special teams unit has played lights out. Jones continues to make plays and Tucker is still automatic when his number is called and Koch remains one of the most underrated punters in the NFL.

If the team doesn’t come together fast, a failing grade will be in order quickly for the playoffs.

For more Local Football Bloggers and the latest Ravens news, see CBS Sports Baltimore.

Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.

Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. He can be reached for comments at SamuelN870@gmail.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.

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