Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

Monday, December 28, 2009


Quarterback: B-minus

Joe Flacco played a solid game overall despite being under heavy duress as he was sacked four times. He completed 13 of 25 passes for 166 yards, two touchdowns to tight end Todd Heap and one interception for an 83.1 passer rating. He should have had a third touchdown pass that could have potentially won the game if not for Derrick Mason's extremely costly and uncharacteristic dropped pass in the end zone all by himself.

Running back: A

Against the top-ranked rushing defense in the NFL, Ray Rice rushed for 141 yards on 30 carries. He grinded out a lot of tough yards against a bunch of tough linebackers. He's the first back to gain 100 yards against the Steelers since Fred Taylor rushed for 147 yards against them on Dec. 16, 2007, breaking an NFL-high 33-game streak of not allowing an opposing rusher to hit the century mark. Rice lost one fumble. Willis McGahee's touchdown run was nullified due to a holding penalty.

Receiver: C

Derrick Mason caught a team-high seven passes for 77 yards. He also had an inexplicable drop in the fourth quarter that cost the Ravens a touchdown they needed in the fourth quarter with the game locked. Tight end Todd Heap caught two touchdown passes on nice fade patterns.

Offensive line: C

Although they did a good job of run blocking, Joe Flacco was hit far too often and too many penalties were committed. Oniel Cousins' personal foul pushed the Ravens out of field goal range in the fourth quarter. Overall, rookie Michael Oher didn’t embarrass himself against James Harrison as last year's NFL Defensive Player of the Year was held to no sacks with one forced fumble. It wasn’t his best performance, though. However, Cousins was simply overmatched against Woodley's array of pass-rushing moves. Especially his inside spin move. Woodley led the Steelers with 10 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble with his pass deflection intercepted by James Farrior.

Defensive line: B-minus

Rashard Mendenhall rushed for just 36 yards on 17 carries, and Ben Roethlisberger was sacked four times. To win this game, though, the Ravens probably needed to sack him at least a few more times. They were close so many times, but couldn't get him down. Haloti Ngata had a very active game with one sack and two tackles for losses. Kelly Gregg had a sack and two tackles for losses. Trevor Pryce was held constantly, but didn't draw the flags.

Linebacker: C-plus

Middle linebacker Ray Lewis recovered a fumble. Antwan Barnes had a sack. Dannell Ellerbe struggled in space and got picked on downfield. Terrell Suggs had five tackles, but dropped a potential interception for a touchdown. And Suggs' block-in-the-back infraction negated cornerback Domonique Foxworth's interception return for a touchdown.

Secondary: B

Playing without injured safety Ed Reed and down to cornerback Chris Carr as a starter with Lardarius Webb out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the Ravens' secondary held up well for the most part against Ben Roethlisberger. One week removed from a 503-yard, three-touchdown game against the Green Bay Packers, Roethlisberger was held to 259 yards, one touchdown and was intercepted once for a 75.2 passer rating. Plus, there should have been at least two more interceptions if not for Terrell Suggs' penalty and an illegal contact flag on Frank Walker that took away Tom Zbikowski's pick in the fourth quarter. Overall, it was a solid outing.

Special teams: D

Punter Sam Koch's 21-yard shank led to Rashard Mendenhall's touchdown run. The Ravens struggled in kick coverage against Stefan Logan, who averaged 32.3 yards per kickoff return with one 49-yard return. He also had a 17-yard punt return. The bright spot was the Ravens' return game with Jalen Parmele making a strong debut on kickoff returns with a 48-yard return as he averaged 29 yards on five returns with Chris Carr averaging 12 yards per punt return.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times and the Annapolis Capital.

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