By Samuel Njoku
The Baltimore Ravens did what they do best on Monday against the Detroit Lions. And that’s win in December. The Ravens made it four straight victories as they continue to hold on to the final wild card spot and possibly a third straight division title. It was no easy task against a Lions team with plenty to fight for themselves.
Offense Grade: C+
Coming into this game, the thought was the Ravens would be able to take advantage of a very poor Lions secondary. Instead, the Ravens found themselves in a defensive struggle throughout the entire game. Baltimore was able to get some things going on the ground as Ray Rice finished with 56 yards while averaging 4.7 yards per carry. But they knew coming into this match up that they needed to win through the air. That would mean that the Ravens receivers had to gain consistent separation on the Lions defensive backs; they couldn’t get the job done. The Ravens receivers made plays when they had to. But if they were more consistent against a routinely porous secondary, the score wouldn’t have been nearly as close.
Of course being open wouldn’t matter much without good protection from the offensive line. And for the past few weeks, the O-line has played pretty well against some great defensive fronts. Many suspected that the Lions front would dominate at the point of attack, but that was not the case and it was one of the key battles that gave Baltimore the victory.
Defense Grade: A
When you call the best receiver in the league old, you better come to play. And the Ravens defense came to play. Baltimore placed consistent pressure on Matthew Stafford and the Lions receivers. They set the tone early and often with crushing hits on the Lions receiving corps that had them hearing footsteps the entire game. Calvin Johnson was clearly pressing to perform well after hearing Matt Elam’s comments about the receiver being old. But it would be a mistake to take away from what Jimmy Smith was able to accomplish against Megatron. He held the big time receiver in check and refused to give up the big play.
The Ravens did a great job of stopping the run against the speedy Reggie Bush and did their best to make the Lions one dimensional.
Quarterback Grade: B+
When the game is on the line, you want the ball in the hands of Joe Flacco. The reigning Super Bowl MVP recorded his second straight game winning drive in as many weeks as he helped take down the Detroit Lions. Flacco as usual wasn’t as sharp when the game started. But once he gets into a rhythm, he can be deadly from behind the center. One of the knocks on Flacco in his game will be his inability to lead his offense into the endzone. Some of that criticism will be warranted. But when the game is on the line, Flacco has the goods to get the job done. Some of his throws in crunch time are pretty unbelievable. It’s nice to see this offense move the football down the football field, but in order to become championship contenders, they’ll need to score touchdowns when they reach the redzone.
Special Teams: A+++
Justin Tucker hit a game winner from 61 yards on the road with less than a minute to go in the game. What else needs to be said. He’s now hit 32 straight field goal kicks on the year and with two games left the number will surely rise before the final whistle is blown in Week 17. Simply put, Tucker is the best kicker in the NFL.
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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.