By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens were in must-win territory on Sunday against the New York Jets. A loss by them would all but shut down any dreams Baltimore had of returning to the postseason. Fortunately for Ravens fans, Baltimore took care of business against Rex Ryan’s Jets and still remain in contention for a playoff spot. The offense still looks shaky but the defense absolutely shut down Geno Smith and the Jets offense. Read on to see how the rest of the team graded out.
Offense Grade: C+
The Ravens have been inept on the offensive side of the ball this season. Because of this, Baltimore elected to add a few wrinkles to their game-plan for their matchup against the Jets. In order to get the ground game going, the Ravens implemented a read-option package revolving around back-up QB Tyrod Taylor. The results were mixed. On a few plays, Taylor did a good job of reading the defense and making the correct decision as to whether he should hand the ball off or keep it himself. But as the game went along, the Jets began to focus on stopping Taylor and pretty much shut down the package. The reason for the decline in production centers on the fear factor. No one on the field feared that Taylor would throw the football, and therefore New York was able to keep men close to the line of scrimmage. The Ravens want to get Taylor on the field, but giving him plays to actually throw the football would really open things up.
The offensive line played decent during the first half of football before things began to break down a bit in the second. The running game is still a concern for this team even with the implementation of the Tyrod Taylor package. Rice is running harder, but still finished with only 30 yards total on the day. But the Ravens didn’t let that stop them from keeping the defense honest. Baltimore registered 31 carries on the day and forced New York to key on their running backs which gave Flacco more time in the pocket.
Defense Grade: A+
Jets QB Geno Smith hasn’t played well this season for New York. The Ravens defense was definitely looking forward to giving him fits all day. That’s exactly what happened as Smith was harassed most of the day by the Ravens relentless defense. Smith threw two interceptions to Corey Graham that stalled crucial drives for New York. With the Jets offense just as abysmal as Baltimore’s, the Jets had no chance to win this game.
Defensive lineman Haloti Ngata’s return was evident by how effective they were at shutting down the run from Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell throughout the game. The Ravens D will look to build on their performance as they host Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Quarterback Grade: B+
Joe Flacco had a solid day completing 17 of 26 for 273 yards with one touchdown and an interception. As stated earlier, Flacco had some time in the pocket during the first half before things began to break down in the second. But when the pocket started to collapse around Flacco, he did a great job of stepping up to buy himself some extra time. A lot of times you will see great quarterbacks display a sixth sense for pressure, and it appeared that was exactly what Flacco possessed in some instances on Sunday. The play everyone will remember is the deep bomb to Jacoby Jones (covered by former Raven Ed Reed) that sealed the game late in the third quarter. But there were several great plays by Flacco that will go unnoticed which really helped Baltimore pull out the win.
Special Teams Grade: A+
Justin Tucker continues to impress as he finished 4 for 4 on field goal attempts before Flacco’s touchdown bomb sealed the game. He is without question the best field goal kicker in the NFL. Jacoby Jones provided some explosive plays for Baltimore during punt/kick return duties that helped a great deal with field position.
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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.