Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Baltimore Ravens Report Card


Quarterback: C-minus


Joe Flacco made few throws of any consequence. He completed just 1 of 4 passes during the second quarter as the Ravens totaled only nine yards of total offense. He was intercepted in the fourth quarter by Antoine Bethea and Jarraud Powers with Powers’ pick coming off a dropped pass by Ray Rice. Flacco completed 20 of 35 passes for 189 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions for a 48.4 passer rating.

Running back: C-plus

Ray Rice was bottled up for the most part by a swarming, athletic Colts defense. Because of the nature of the game with the Ravens falling behind and abandoning the run for the most part, he wasn't able to make much of an impact. The Pro Bowl runner also lost a fumble in the fourth quarter and dropped a pass that was intercepted. He rushed for 67 yards on 13 carries, catching nine passes for 60 yards.

Receiver: C-minus

Derrick Mason ceased to be a big factor after the first quarter, finishing with four catches for 64 yards. They didn't generate enough separation to give Joe Flacco clear looks downfield on a consistent basis. The Ravens clearly need to upgrade at wide receiver. Where are Mark Clayton, Kelley Washington and Demetrius Williams when this team needs them?

Offensive line: C

Joe Flacco was sacked just once, but offensive tackle Jared Gaither lost his focus as he committed a false start and a holding penalty during a third-quarter drive. There wasn't enough room for Ray Rice to bust free the way he did last week against the New England Patriots when he rushed for 159 yards and two scores.

Defensive line: C-minus

Peyton Manning had the luxury of far too much time to pick out his receivers. He was never under much duress. They had a viable performance against the run as Joseph Addai rushed for 23 yards on 11 carries before leaving with a shoulder injury. Kelly Gregg, Haloti Ngata and Dwan Edwards played the best upfront.

Linebacker: C

Middle linebacker Ray Lewis was flagged for unnecessary roughness, leading to a touchdown pass to Reggie Wayne. Terrell Suggs didn't provide enough of a pass rush on Peyton Manning. Rookie inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe was picked on repeatedly by tight end Dallas Clark downfield with the Pro Bowl tight end catching seven passes for 59 yards. The crossing route was a big issue.

Secondary: D

They couldn't match Peyton Manning's precision despite some fairly sound coverage. Ed Reed intercepted two passes, but fumbled away one pick and had the other nullified by Corey Ivy's pass interference penalty.

Special teams: C

Billy Cundiff connected on his only field goal try from 25 yards. Jalen Parmele was solid on kickoff returns. Former Ravens kicker Matt Stover hit field goals from 44 and 33 yards. The Ravens didn’t make any big plays in the kicking game, which could have made the game more competitive. Punter Sam Koch averaged 47.6 yards. Punt returner Chris Carr had three fair catches and no punt return yards.

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

RAVENS NOTEBOOK: Ravens' playoff path reminiscent of last season


OWINGS MILLS – One year removed from a march to the AFC championship game, the Baltimore Ravens’ postseason run is taking on a similar flavor.

As a wild-card entrant last season, the Ravens crushed the AFC East champion Miami Dolphins in the opening round.

Then, they edged the top-seeded, AFC South champion Tennessee Titans in a tense divisional playoff behind a clutch Matt Stover field goal to advance to the title game before falling to the eventual Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers.

Now that the Ravens (10-7) have dispatched the AFC East champions again with a brutal 33-14 win over the New England Patriots, they’re about to square off with the top-seeded Indianapolis Colts (14-2) on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Although there’s a considerable amount of symmetry at work here, obviously that doesn’t necessarily mean the exact same scenario will unfold. As good as the Titans were, they aren’t nearly as formidable as a Colts team headlined by NFL Most Valuable Player quarterback Peyton Manning.

“Every year is different,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Obviously the fact that most of our players have been in that situation before, I think our younger guys can draw on the experience of the guys that have been there before.

“It’s a different year, it’s a different team. We’re a different team, and this is a new week. We’ll just have to see how it plays out.”

Just like last year, though, the Ravens will have to contend with a well-rested AFC South team.

The Colts coasted into the playoffs, resting starters liberally during the final two games after getting off to a 14-0 start.

While the Colts could have to shake off some rust, the Ravens are hoping to use momentum to springboard themselves back to within one game of the Super Bowl.

“It’s not something that we’re going to think about,” Harbaugh said. “We’re in a situation where we’ve had to play. We’ve taken that set of circumstances and tried to turn it into making us the best team we can be to win the next game, be the best team we can be.

“A team like the Colts has a different set of circumstances, but they earned it. We’re on a different path, so you can’t really compare. Maybe someday, we’ll be in that situation. I hope we are, and then we can talk about that.”

NO CHALLENGE: Detailing his decision to not challenge a muffed punt that Patriots safety Kyle Arrington recovered and didn’t have control of the football as he sailed out of bounds, Harbaugh reiterated that he didn’t have sufficient information to call for an instant replay.

Harbaugh said that he didn’t see it on the field, and his assistant coaches up in the booth only had the benefit of a television replay that didn’t come until after the commercial break while the Patriots’ offense was lining up for the next play. And the play wasn’t replayed by the Patriots on their video board for obvious competitive reasons.

The Ravens lacked the information on whether a challenge was viable.

“We didn’t have enough,” Harbaugh said. “You’ve got to go by what you see up top and what you see on the field. Nobody on our sideline could see it. Our coaches didn’t see the recovery part of it live and they didn’t get that up until after the commercial break when the Patriots were going to the line of scrimmage and we’re trying to get a defense lined up.

“At that point, we really didn’t have an indication that there was even an issue on the sideline in real time. And we didn’t see it in time to communicate it to get the flag thrown. In all honesty, we want to do a better job with that if we can. We’re going to try to do a better job in the future making sure if you could have seen it on time that we don’t miss it.”

Harbaugh said a few potential remedies to that situation have been broached around the league.

“There are some conversations that the live feed that the network has for their production crew should go into the coaches’ box,” Harbaugh said. “That’s something that could be looked at. To me, that’s the only thing you could really do.”

INJURY UPDATE: Tight end Todd Heap is expected to play against the Colts despite suffering a back stinger against the Patriots.

Heap said it’s a painful injury, but one he thinks he should be able to endure.

So far, all tests have indicated there’s no structural damage.

“He’s got some lower back type spasms,” Harbaugh said. “That stuff can be tough, but usually you can work through that pretty well. So, he should be fine.”

QUICK HITS: Harbaugh downplayed the notion that the Ravens’ defense can take much out of intercepting Patriots quarterback Tom Brady three times and applying it to defending Manning. “Those two guys are different,” he said. “They’re similar in the fact that they’re both great quarterbacks, Hall of Famers. They’re different, and the offenses are completely different. And how they run their offenses is completely different.” … The Ravens will return to work today for a light practice after giving the players off Monday. With a Saturday game, everything has been condensed. The Ravens have already done a lot of advance work on scouting the Colts since they knew that would be their opponent if they got past the Patriots. “We’ll just move everything up one day,” Harbaugh said. “We’ve done a lot of work already going in.” … Harbaugh initially thought that free safety Ed Reed should have held onto the ball instead of lateraling to strong safety Dawan Landry after intercepting Brady. The gamble wound up being an effective one with Landry gaining another 25 yards after a safe pitch from Reed. “We encourage our guys to make good decisions, and good decisions are usually judged by the result,” Harbaugh said. “My first thought, I’m going to be honest with you, when he was running up the sideline, is not to do it. My first thought is secure the football, but he had a situation that we do practice where he had Dawan in great position. He had control of the ball. Nobody was near the ball, and he had free access to get it to Dawan. So, he made a good decision and it worked out.” … Harbaugh praised oft-criticized, penalty-prone reserve cornerback Frank Walker. Walker had one of his better games, avoiding penalties and playing aggressively and under control with two tackles and a pass deflection. “Frank is a really good football player,” Harbaugh said. “Frank has made the same kind of errors that every player makes in the heat of battle, and some of those things get a little blown out of proportion because some of those penalties he’s had have been touch fouls that sometimes don’t get called the other way. So, I’m going to defend Frank. I believe in Frank. I think he’s a good football player, and I was happy to see the way he played this last week. If you want to talk about fundamentally sound corner play, watch Frank Walker against the New England Patriots. It’s training tape.” … Cornerback Domonique Foxworth shut down Randy Moss in single coverage, holding him to five receptions for 48 yards. He also registered nine tackles, including one for a loss. It was easily his best tackling performance of the season. “I think he’s been a good tackler all year, not to say corners don’t miss some tackles and those guys are 180-pound type guys so they’re in some mismatches sometimes,” Harbaugh said. “Obviously, I think our whole secondary has done a really good job of tackling. Run after the catch is huge. It’s going to be big against the Colts, so we’ve got to continue doing that. But we did a nice job with it.”

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

Ravens insist that Flacco's health is fine


OWINGS MILLS – Hobbled by a hip contusion and a sore quadriceps that has severely limited his mobility and production, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco is just five days away from another encounter with the relentless Indianapolis Colts’ pass rush.

Despite Flacco completing only four of 10 passes for 34 yards with one interception and no touchdowns, the Ravens trampled the New England Patriots for a 33-14 AFC wild-card victory Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

Against the Patriots, Flacco simply managed the game by handing off to running back Ray Rice as he carried the offense with 159 rushing yards and two touchdown runs.

Now, Flacco and the Ravens are bracing for the swift onslaught of Colts star defensive ends Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis.

To a man, the Ravens insist that Flacco will be ready and capable of handling the situation.

“He is very much healthy enough to play and to play well,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Monday at the Ravens’ training complex. “The more you guys want to make of the injury situation, that’s great. Make it really dire. You know, he’s really in bad shape. He’s fine.”

Flacco wound up tying former Miami Dolphins quarterback Bob Griese for the least yards in a playoff win during the Super Bowl era, a span dating back to 1966.

Griese also passed for 34 yards on Dec. 30, 1973 during a win over the Oakland Raiders.

It became clear last week that Flacco’s condition had worsened.

His bruise on his right hip was extremely noticeable.

He left practice early Friday for treatment.

And he struggled to work out the stiffness during practice drills.

“I’ve got stiffness in the quad,” said Flacco, who added that he didn’t take a painkiller to get through the game.“I don’t know if it’s because of fluid running down there or what it is. It’s my whole right leg.”

In New England, Flacco didn’t appear to be able to step into his throws with his usual authority and mechanics as his passes sailed with one errant throw intercepted by outside linebacker Tully Banta-Cain.

Nonetheless, Flacco was able to grit it out and do just enough to help his team win by scrambling for a key first down in the fourth quarter to set up a Willis McGahee touchdown run.

Earlier in that drive, Flacco delivered a 17-yard strike to wide receiver Mark Clayton to convert a pivotal third down.

“I think Joe played well,” Harbaugh said. “One thing, we don’t care about is numbers. That’s for everybody else. Those numbers don’t mean anything to us. When Joe has to throw the ball 48 times to try to win a game, he’ll do that. When we have to throw 10 times to try to win a game, we’ll do that, too.

“I think it speaks to really the unselfish nature of these guys, of our offensive coaches, of Joe, of the receivers. Our receivers, it was four catches, so it’s stunning in some ways. But they were big ones, were they not. They were huge conversions on third down.”

For Flacco, it marked a career-low for attempts, completions and passing yardage.

And it marked a troubling trend for the banged-up second-year quarterback.

Sacked 10 times during the final three games of the regular season, Flacco passed for only 166 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers, 102 yards against the Oakland Raiders and bottoming out with less than 40 yards against the Patriots.

It was a testament to his will that Flacco was able to handle himself adeptly against the Patriots.

“I felt pretty good, actually,” Flacco said. “When we got out there and adrenaline got going, obviously a little stiff. But I felt like what is asked of a quarterback, I was able to do everything.”

In the victorious visitors’ locker room, Flacco was definitely limping.

Despite the issues with his leg in the latest problem in a season where he has also had to contend with a sprained right ankle suffered when Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen stepped on his foot and a sore shoulder, Flacco persevered.

And he was adamant that he’s capable of launching it 30 times if called upon.

“Oh, definitely, without a doubt,” Flacco said. “I could drop back perfectly. I had to scramble a couple times and was able to do it. So, definitely, I could’ve done that.”

By halftime, Flacco had completed just 2 of 6 passes for nine yards for a 2.8 passer rating.

During the first game against New England, Flacco had a career-high 47 attempts. He wasn’t sacked by the Patriots, but Freeney and Mathis present a different kind of problem.

They have combined for 23 sacks this season, but didn’t get to Flacco once in the first meeting, a 17-15 Baltimore loss, where Flacco passed for 256 yards on 35 throws.

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron downplayed the effect of Flacco’s injuries, saying it wasn’t a factor in the game plan.

“He wasn’t limited at all,” he said. “Joe basically took every snap in practice all week. It’s funny how when you have tall quarterbacks when they get a little dinged up, it looks worse than it does for a shorter guy.

“He’s fine. That’s another reason we drafted him. He’s tough, and our players know he’s tough. .. Joe is one tough kid. He’s been injured a lot this year, and he keeps playing through it.”

Cameron also said that the Ravens won’t hesitate to throw the ball a lot if they feel like the game plan and the matchups dictate such a strategy.

“I’d like to go through a game where you never threw a pass,” Cameron said. “Drew Brees and I used to joke about that. We almost did it in Cleveland one year.

Everybody wants the ball.

“My job is to call plays and help us win the game. Our backs are outstanding, our offensive linemen outstanding. That was this game. Come up this week, you never know. It could flip-flop and go the other way. We’re going to run the offense we think helps us win the game.”

It’s hard to believe, though, that the Ravens will be throwing a lot against the Colts. Not with the way Flacco is feeling and how Rice is running roughshod over defenders.

It’s been a long time and a lot of hits since Flacco threw the ball 47 times against the Patriots on Oct. 4.

"What we do is based on who we're playing," Cameron said. "The game plan went the way we wanted it to go, and the conditions were a little different. We were throwing the ball pretty good there [early in the season] and people changed their cover structure against us. Now they've gone to more of a two-shell defense, which helps your running game.

"I don't want to be stubborn. If they're going to give us the pass we'll take the pass. If they're going to play the defensive backs back, we're going to run the football. That’s what's going on. What's really changed is how people are defending us."

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

Monday, January 11, 2010

Baltimore Ravens Report Card v. Patriots Wild Card Game


Quarterback: C-minus

Joe Flacco had a rough day due to a hip and quadriceps injury. He completed just 4 of 10 passes for 34 yards, no touchdowns and one interception for a 17.0 passer rating. However, he displayed impressive guts in playing through a contusion that’s also affecting his quadriceps and limiting his mobility severely. He picked up a pair of key first downs, one on a scramble and another on a pass to Mark Clayton, that helped his team win on a day where he wasn’t even anywhere close to the neighborhood of being 100 percent.

Running back: A

Ray Rice seized the momentum immediately with his 83-yard touchdown jaunt, silencing the crowd at Gillette Stadium. He rushed for 159 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries. The Pro Bowl runner spearheaded the Ravens’ upset win. Willis McGahee contributed 62 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries. Pro Bowl fullback Le’Ron McClain delivered some jarring lead blocks.

Receiver: C-minus

It’s hard to judge whether they played well or not considering the game plan was built to throw the ball as little as possible. Considering the three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust approach, nothing the receivers did with the exception of Mark Clayton’s 17-yard reception wound up being all that relevant. The downfield blocking was excellent.

Offensive line: A

A banged-up Joe Flacco was never sacked. And the Ravens’ rugged running game embarrassed the Patriots’ proud defense with 234 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 52 carries. The seal blocks from Marshal Yanda, Matt Birk and Ben Grubbs gave Ray Rice more than enough real estate to scamper through.

Defensive line: B-plus

Tom Brady was sacked three times and looked flustered as he completed just 23 of 42 passes for 154 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions for a 49.1 passer rating. He scarcely resembled the poised Pro Bowl quarterback that he is, averaging just 2.9 yards per passing attempt.

Linebacker: B-plus

Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs’ sack, strip and fumble recovery of Tom Brady set up a touchdown. Ray Lewis recorded 13 tackles and a sack, hitting Brady twice. Dannell Ellerbe contributed six tackles.

Secondary: A

They absolutely shut down the great Tom Brady, which seemed unthinkable heading into this playoff game. They intercepted him three times, including Ed Reed, Dawan Landry and Chris Carr picking off the NFL Comeback Player of the Year. The tackling was terrific, especially from cornerbacks Domonique Foxworth and Frank Walker.

Special teams: B

Long snapper Matt Katula snapped well as Billy Cundiff converted field goals from 27 and 23 yards. Punter Sam Koch had an off day. Chris Carr had a 34-yard punt return. Another punt was muffed out of bounds as it hit Tom Zbikowski. The Ravens averaged 20.3 yards per kickoff return.









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

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Willis lets his play do the talking


OWINGS MILLS – It has been an unusual season for Baltimore Ravens running back Willis McGahee.

The former Pro Bowl selection has had to adjust to becoming the primary backup to Pro Bowl runner Ray Rice, and has done so without complaint.

That doesn’t mean he wants to be a backup forever, though.

“I don’t think nobody is comfortable with being a backup,” he said. “I was always one of those guys who wanted more touches. Right now, that’s not the issue. The issue is keep going further into the playoffs.

“It’s been pretty cool. I can’t complain. I’m injury-free and Ray made it to the Pro Bowl. Adjusting to the role, it has been completely different. This year, it’s all about the team.”

McGahee tied a franchise record this season with a total of 14 touchdowns, a dozen on the ground and two more on receptions.

He has rushed for 544 yards on 109 carries while backing up Rice, who gained 1,339 yards and caught 78 passes.

“I’m a backup, been backing up the whole season,” McGahee said. “So, ain’t nothing going to change. I’ve got 14 touchdowns. You can’t win ‘em all.”

Meanwhile, McGahee is looking forward to matching up against his cousin, New England Patriots cornerback Darius Butler, on Sunday during the Ravens’ AFC-wild card game at Gillette Stadium.

“It’s going to be pretty cool, man,” McGahee said. “Darius is a good kid, so I wish him luck, but not that much luck. I don’t want to give him no playoff advice because if I give him playoff advice, that means we’re out of it and they’re still in it. Good luck, that’s the playoff advice right there.”

At 6-foot, 235 pounds, McGahee has a major size advantage over his relative. Butler is listed at 5-10, 185 pounds.

Can Butler bring down McGahee?

“This is the NFL, anybody can tackle anybody,” McGahee said. “But if it’s one-on-one, nah.”



Ravens News & Notes


The Ravens practiced in their indoor facility all week while preparing for a playoff game Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Normally, the Ravens practice outdoors. They couldn’t this week because the field is frozen. “We’ve had some of our sessions outside,” Harbaugh said. “The fields don’t allow us to go out there as much as we want from a footing standpoint. They’re frozen. Probably if they weren’t frozen, we would have been out there more, but we had it as cold as we could get it in here. And we’re playing on turf, so we just felt like that was a priority.” …

Following the Ravens’ win over the Oakland Raiders to clinch a playoff berth, Harbaugh wielded a shovel and a sword in the locker room to celebrate the win. Harbaugh explained how the sword and shovel made it to Oakland. “President Obama is asking the same question," Harbaugh said with a smile."For the record, we did not take it across country. We got it out there and it stayed out there." Harbaugh used the sword and shovel as symbols to relate a biblical story. “We told the team about the Nehemiah story, which is about a great man who went back to Jerusalem way back when and rebuilt a wall around the city, and what that took and all the obstacles he faced, the challenges that were in front of him," Harbaugh said. "Through the course of that, there were people trying to stop him from building the wall. They had a shovel in one hand and a sword in the other, so they had to defend themselves at the same time they were working. We felt like that was appropriate for us midway through the season, and the guys had fun with it." Harbaugh had plenty of room with offensive guard Chris Chester backing away when he pulled out the sword. …

Patriots coach Bill Belichick directed some heavy praise toward Reed, whom he has coached in the Pro Bowl. “Ed Reed, I don’t think there is a better safety in the NFL than Ed Reed," Belichick said. "You look at the play he made against Indianapolis, that interception, to me, that’s got to be the play of the year in the secondary. That’s as good a play as any player can make back there, the way he set it up, and then reacted and played the ball. I mean, it was just a tremendous play." … Birk met another fellow Harvard player last week, Oakland Raiders defensive lineman Desmond Bryant. “I told him, I didn’t even know you existed,” Birk said. “He’s a rookie, so it’s good to replenish that pipeline once in a while, I guess.” … Veteran linebacker Jarret Johnson praised undrafted rookie Dannell Ellerbe, who had two turnovers against the Raiders. “He’s a steal, a guy that was a sleeper in camp and coaches loved, but nobody really knew him,” Johnson said. “Very explosive, a young guy running around and he’s just gotten better every game. He made a big play last week, so he’s definitely a steal for us.” …

Along with linebacker Terrell Suggs, Ngata was flagged for roughing the passer in the first meeting with New England for a hit on Brady. “I think we’ve been adjusting through the season on rushing the passer,” Ngata said. “You have to make sure you stay away from his head and his knees. We’ve been working on the penalties and making sure it doesn’t happen. I think we’ve been doing a good job.” … With his brother, Jim Harbaugh, rumored to be a potential candidate for the Buffalo Bills and Oakland Raiders’ jobs, John Harbaugh spoke generally about the potential prospects of both Harbaugh’s coaching in the NFL one day. “That’d be pretty cool,” he said. “I hope so, but he’s happy there obviously. I don’t think he’s in any hurry to leave. He’s got some things to do there, one of them would be winning the Pac-10 championship. That would be a great honor, a great thrill if that happens. He definitely could do it, there’s no doubt about it.”




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

Monday, January 4, 2010

BALTIMORE RAVENS' REPORT CARD


Quarterback: D

Joe Flacco had a very sluggish game, one of his worst of the season. He completed just 11 of 19 passes for 102 yards with no touchdowns for a 72.7 quarterback rating. The best thing that can be said of Flacco on an uncharacteristically shaky game is that he didn't throw any interceptions or fumble while being sacked four times. His longest completion was just 23 yards and his pocket presence didn't look good.

Running back: A

Willis McGahee's stiff-arm heard round the world was truly impressive, embarrassing defensive back Hiram Eugene on his 77-yard touchdown run, the Ravens' longest play of the season. He rushed for a season-high 167 yards, scoring three touchdowns to tie Michael Jackson and Jamal Lewis' franchise record with a total of 14 touchdowns for the season. With the Raiders apparently only game-planning for Ray Rice, they didn't seem prepared for McGahee's powerful style. Rice still rushed for 70 yards on 14 carries.

Receiver: C-minus

They didn't create a lot of separation, having no answers for Raiders shutdown cornerback Nmandi Asomugha, who held Derrick Mason to one catch. Once again, Ray Rice was the most impactful receiver with four receptions. Tight end Todd Heap caught two passes for 40 yards.

Offensive line: C-minus

The good news? They created huge pathways for the running game, which piled up 240 yards and three touchdown runs on 35 carries. The bad news? They allowed Joe Flacco to be sacked four times. Flacco needs more time with his limited mobility nowadays to make plays happen. He's not escaping the pocket these days.

Defensive line: C-plus

The Raiders have some solid running backs, but you couldn't tell by watching this game. The Ravens held them to 51 rushing yards on 20 carries, an average of 2.6 yards per carry. Nose guard Kelly Gregg had six tackles and a sack.

Linebacker: B-plus

Middle linebacker Ray Lewis registered a dozen tackles and was very active in run support. However, he got beaten on tight end Zach Miller's touchdown catch as he has been struggling in single pass coverage on third downs. Undrafted rookie Dannell Ellerbe had an outstanding game with a key interception and a fumble recovery. Antwan Barnes had a clutch sack and forced the fumble. Terrell Suggs notched a sack.

Secondary: C-minus

They got picked apart by Charlie Frye, and they're fortunate that he hurt his back and had to leave the game as colossal bust JaMarcus Russell served up two turnovers to help the Ravens clinch the playoff berth. Frye completed 18 of 25 passes for 180 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Free safety Ed Reed knocked off some rust in his first game back from a groin injury. Strong safety Dawan Landry's pass deflection prevented a long touchdown.

Special teams: C

Long snapper Matt Katula's bad snaps are becoming a bigger issue, causing a missed Billy Cundiff field goal on a low snap. He also had another bad snap on an extra point. Punter Sam Koch played well, averaging 42.4 yards. Chris Carr averaged 16.5 yards per punt return. And Jalen Parmele had another strong game on kickoff returns, averaging 34.5 yards with a long return of 53 yards.



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