By Samuel Njoku
The Ravens were officially eliminated from playoff contention on Sunday when they fell to the Cincinnati Bengals 34-17. With the Dolphins loss to New York, a win by Baltimore would have given them the playoff berth. But season-long issues robbed them of their sixth straight playoff appearance.
Offense Grade: D
Since Baltimore’s wild finish against the Minnesota Vikings nearly three weeks ago, the Ravens have been in an offensive funk. Touchdowns have been scarce and it has a lot to do with the play off the offensive line. Once again, the Ravens were unable to keep their quarterback upright in the pocket and it led to sporadic production by the offense. Michael Oher was beat all day and the Bengals did a good job of sending overloads to that side of the field to force Joe Flacco out of the pocket.
The running game for Baltimore was a joke as Cincinnati easily made them a one-dimensional offense. Ray Rice dealt with a thigh injury prior to the game which kept him out of most of the snaps on Sunday. He’ll look to get healthy in the off-season in order to bounce back in 2014.
The Ravens wide receivers once again failed to get open against a good Bengals secondary. The route running has been sub-par at best this season as none of the wide receivers were able to get any separation. To be fair, the receivers aren’t given much time to get open with the play of the offensive line. But it’s become clear that the Ravens missed the production that Anquan Boldin gave this unit last season.
Defense Grade: C+
Having a poor offense hasn’t meant much to the Ravens defense in the past, but this season it seems like it was too much for this team to overcome. On Sunday, the Ravens were able to force four turnovers against Andy Dalton, and yet Baltimore was still unable to take advantage. But while the offense deserves a ton of the blame, the fact is the defense was exposed by Cincinnati. If it weren’t for Dalton’s insistence on throwing the football to the other team, this defense would have been reeling from big plays to A.J. Green and Mohamed Sanu.
Haloti Ngata did his best to stop the run but he was routinely double teamed without Arthur Jones present to garner some of their attention. The Ravens decision to draft Matt Elam over Kenny Vaccaro will be talked about a great deal in the next few years. Elam definitely struggled in this game and perhaps the entire season. Fans should look to Jimmy Smith as an example of why it may be wise to be patient.
Quarterback Grade: D-
Joe Flacco struggled in 2013. The season finale against Cincinnati on Sunday epitomized everything that went wrong for the former Super Bowl MVP. As mentioned earlier, the Ravens offensive line has given him no time in the pocket. Some plays were hard to watch as Flacco would take huge shots on passing downs. Flacco also dealt with tipped passes from both defensive lineman and his own receivers that led to turnovers. It’s been that kind of year for the Ravens QB.
Even with the problems surrounding his supporting cast, Joe Flacco still underperformed against the Bengals on Sunday. He threw the ball 50 times and finished with only 175 yards. That’s so horrible that it’s almost impressive. The Bengals knew the key to stopping Flacco was moving him away from the pocket. They were able to achieve their goals and it was one of many reasons why the Ravens lost.
Special Teams Grade: B-
Justin Tucker converted his only field goal attempt and Sam Koch punted the football without any problems. The Ravens were hoping for a Jacoby Jones return for a touchdown that never came.
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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.