By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens are not a pretty football team by any stretch of the imagination. But they win football games. And you know that anytime the Ravens step onto the field, they have a chance of winning. Sunday’s game was no different as the Ravens defeated the Dolphins 26-23 in thrilling fashion. And while the victory was well deserved, the product on the field was far from perfect.
Offense Grade: C
The Ravens offense knows that they are struggling to produce so far this season. They’ve taken a step in the right direction by trading for LT Eugene Monroe to help fortify the offensive line. But he wasn’t familiar with the offense and was forced to skip Sunday’s game. The result was another poor showing from the offensive line. Joe Flacco was pulverized in the pocket in this game. It was almost hard to watch him get crushed on nearly a play by play basis. Baltimore’s running backs still found it difficult to find any running lanes to work with. The Ravens were smart not to abandon the run as to keep the defense honest and protect their quarterback from further abuse.
Baltimore limped into this game without wide receivers Marlon Brown and Jacoby Jones. Many thought both had a decent chance of playing in this contest but were simply to banged up to go. Torrey Smith was forced to carry the load and he didn’t disappoint. He’s having a superb season so far and racked up 121 yards on six receptions. OC Jim Caldwell is doing a good job placing Smith both in the slot and outside to create favorable matchups. As poor as the offense is playing, it would be much worse without Torrey Smith in the lineup. Both Ed Dickson and Tandon Doss played relatively well after slow starts for both of them earlier this season.
Defense Grade: B+
Until the Ravens offense gets their act together, the defense will have to carry the team. And from what we’ve seen from this team so far, they seem to be more than up to the challenge. Daryl Smith could be the biggest free agent acquisition in the NFL. He’s been simply phenomenal on the football field. His instincts are incredible and his athleticism is underrated. But the star of the show on defense is former Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs. He’s fully recovered from the Achilles tendon injury that slowed him down last season and is now dominating opposing offensive lineman. At one point in the game, it appeared that Suggs dragged a lineman with him to the quarterback!
The secondary for Baltimore took a step backward this week however. Jimmy Smith failed to play the ball that lead to a Miami touchdown. And there were a few plays where Baltimore was simply caught out of position. For the most part however, the defense performed well and kept them in the game from start to finish.
Quarterback Grade: B-
Joe Flacco’s mother is not a fan of the Ravens offensive line. That’s because she had to watch her son get beat down for the majority of the game. To be fair, the offensive line picked things up in the second half. But overall, the play was brutal to watch. Flacco made some pretty impressive passes when he had time in the pocket. One pass in particular took place over the shoulder of Tandon Doss. The location was perfect and led to a huge gain for the offense.
Flacco finished with no touchdowns and one interception that occurred when LT Bryant McKinnie was beat on a play. The defender swatted the pass that lead to a pick six. Joe didn’t flinch and led Baltimore on a game-winning drive that was capped by a Justin Tucker field goal late in the fourth quarter. With Eugene Monroe expected to start next week against Green Bay, expect Flacco’s numbers to improve.
Special Teams: A
Sam Koch executed a poor punt that gave the Dolphins decent field position. Other than that, the Special Teams unit played well. Tandon Doss continues to excel in his new role as a punt returner, and Justin Tucker was 4 for 4 on the day including the game-winning field goal.
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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. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.