Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

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.

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