Mike Preston writes a column for the Baltimore Sun in the sports section.
Every week Mike grades the Ravens performance, and here are his grades for the Ravens season ending loss to the Bengals 34-17.
Courtesy of the Baltimore Sun:
Joe Flacco finished the game with a quarterback rating of 49.8. He completed 30 of 50 passes for 192 yards, but he also threw three interceptions. His longest pass was 14 yards, and the Bengals did a nice job of taking away the long ball. Flacco took a beating, which is the only reason he doesn’t get a failing grade. Grade: D
Running backs: F
For a while there, the Ravens got some tough runs from Bernard Pierce, pictured, and Bernard Scott. The Ravens should have stayed with that 1-2 punch. Ray Rice has no speed or acceleration. His best run came when he high-stepped down the sideline after scoring off a two-point conversion run. Grade: F
The Bengals’ defensive game plan was simple, and that was to pressure Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco and take away the long ball. Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones weren’t factors, and the only consistent weapon was tight end Dennis Pitta. Marlon Brown, pictured, had a touchdown reception in the third quarter. Grade: D
Offensive line: F
Joe Flacco was smacked around a lot, and he should sue the offensive line for lack of support. The Ravens couldn’t handle the twists up the middle from the Bengals or the speed off the edges. Part of the reason the Ravens struggle in the red zone is because they have no running game. Absolutely none. Grade: F
Defensive line: D+
Without end Arthur Jones (concussion), the Ravens were in trouble because he has been the team’s most consistent performer. The Bengals rushed 30 times for 111 yards, and they took control of the game with a drive that started near the end of the third quarter. Tackle Haloti Ngata, bottom right, had seven tackles. Grade: D+
Outside linebackers Terrell Suggs, pictured, and Elvis Dumervil combined for one tackle. That’s correct, one. Suggs failed to keep containment on several running plays. In Dumervil’s defense, he is still struggling with an ankle injury. Jameel McClain had eight tackles, and Daryl Smith had five. Smith is the only player on the defense who should have been seriously considered for Pro Bowl honor. Linebackers got lost a lot on screens. Grade: D
The Ravens made several plays on the back end, but they still give up too many big plays, especially over the middle. Cornerback Jimmy Smith has made good progress, but he still has problems finding the ball. The Ravens are good when they are allowed to mug receivers, but have problems when they aren’t. Tackling has been a problem for this group the past two games. Grade: C+ +
Special teams: B
Sam Koch had a fairly strong day, averaging 47.5 yards on six punts, including one of 55 yards. Justin Tucker converted on three field-goal attempts, and Jacoby Jones tried hard to make some things happen in the return game. The Ravens had good punt coverage, but they allowed an average of 26.3 yards on three kickoff returns, including one of 28 yards. The Ravens also benefited from Bengals punter Shawn Powell, pictured, shanking a punt for 10 yards in the third quarter, setting up their touchdown. Grade: B
It’s hard to see a lot of strategy on both offense and defense. The Ravens couldn’t manufacture any pressure on Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton, and it was difficult to see what the Ravens’ offensive game plan was going into the game. The only saving grace Sunday was the special teams. The Ravens red zone offense is pathetic. Grade: C-