Ravens Unable To Weather Storm As They Fall In Chicago
By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens have become accustomed to delays in football due to circumstances beyond their control (last year’s Super Bowl power outage for example). Sunday was no different as Baltimore’s game was delayed nearly two hours due to a severe thunderstorm in Chicago. But once football resumed, the Ravens were unable to weather the storm against the Bears, falling 20-17 and putting them at 4-6 on the season, with little hope to make the playoffs.
Offense Grade: B-
The weather was so bad in Chicago on Sunday that the entire game should be graded on a curve. The field was a mess and the winds were reaching historic speeds. The Ravens offense tried their best with what was given to them. For starters, the Ravens offensive line played very well. Not only were they able to keep up with their assignments, but they did it with physicality.
Nobody was happier than Ray Rice on the field today. At times he couldn’t keep himself from smiling. He finished with 131 yards on 25 carries and a touchdown. The running game didn’t get the job done when it mattered most, and that was in the fourth quarter inside the five-yard line with seconds to go. Baltimore couldn’t punch the ball in and was forced to settle for the game tying field goal.
The Ravens receivers once again had problems holding on to the football. Some of it had to do with the wind affecting the trajectory of the football. But most of the passes hit the receivers in the hands. The Ravens couldn’t afford any drops in this game, especially during crucial third downs.
Defense Grade: B-
The defense played solid on Sunday against a Bears offense without their starting quarterback. Jimmy Smith continues to play well in his third season with the team. Baltimore did a great job taking Brandon Marshall out of the game. Of course, the bad weather helped them in that regard. Matt Forté was able to get some yards on the ground. The injury to Haloti Ngata gave Chicago a weakness to exploit throughout the contest.
Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs were shut out of the game. The two pass rushers combined for only one tackle. As has been the case all season, the Ravens defense played lights out until the final quarter. The defense couldn’t get the Bears offense off of the field and it cost them in overtime.
Quarterback Grade: D
For weeks, Joe Flacco has struggled primarily due to a poor offensive line. And while the protection wasn’t perfect for the Ravens QB, he certainly had time in the pocket to make some plays. Unfortunately, most of the big plays made from Flacco landed in the other team’s hands. Simply put, Flacco has made poor decisions all season. Sure, the wind didn’t help him any when the team needed a big play, but the toss to Dallas Clark in triple coverage was unacceptable. That’s a throw some rookies wouldn’t dare make. Flacco’s decision making needs to improve in order to give this team a chance to win. Turnovers were the story in this game, and Flacco was the main culprit.
Special Teams Grade: A+
Is there a better kicker in the NFL than Justin Tucker? He’s just playing phenomenal football right now. Sam Koch prevented what could have been a disaster during a field goal attempt when the ball was snapped high. Koch was able to catch it, trap it, and adjust in awful conditions to give Tucker a clean ball to kick. This unit was impressive.
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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.