When the Baltimore Ravens fell to the Buffalo Bills 23-20 on Sunday, all of the negative criticisms seemed to be directed toward the offensive side of the football. However, while they did keep Baltimore in the game, the Ravens’ defense didn’t have their best showing against a Bills offense led by rookie quarterback E.J. Manuel.
Manuel wasn’t even the one who dominated as the Ravens largely kept his success to a minimum. Steve Johnson dropping the football on numerous occasions helped as well. The score possibly could have been worse as well if that apparent touchdown in the corner of the end zone to Robert Woods would have stood.
Yes, Manuel did find a way to get behind the coverage of the Ravens’ secondary and defeated Baltimore with crossing routes to T.J. Graham underneath. but the real story from Sunday’s game was an overall letdown by the run defense.
C.J. Spiller came into today’s contest running at an average of 3.6 YPC, while his counterpart Fred Jackson came in with 5.3 Both were able to have success early and often, finding creases and cracks in that vaunted Ravens front seven. It wasn’t so much that these two backs got outside of Ravens tacklers; they simply found the right holes, made their own and were simply better athletes today.
Buffalo out-muscled the Ravens today and won the battle up front on both sides of the football. I expected Courtney Upshaw to come up big for the Ravens at the outside linebacker position today, but he wasn’t alone in throwing out a disappointing effort.
Elvis Dumervil was virtually nonexistent in both rushing the passer and stopping the run. Corey Graham was cooked like an egg today despite having one interception, and Matt Elam didn’t have a stellar performance either. Not all was bad for the Ravens defensively though.
While he made a questionable act at the end of the game, Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had a pretty good game stopping the run and garnered another sack for the fourth consecutive game. Safety James Ihedigbo virtually eliminated tight end Scott Chandler, one of the better pass-catching tight ends in the AFC.
Inside linebacker Daryl Smith once again had over 10 total tackles and added another interception, continuing the stellar efforts of weeks past. Finally, Jimmy Smith played admirably against the Bills’ No. 1 receiver Steve Johnson. Sure, the cornerback did have some help as Johnson dropped a lot of passes, but Smith was with him step-for-step throughout the game.
A struggling running game found ways to gain yards on the ground against the Ravens. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees has to be disappointed in the physicality displayed by his unit. This week of practice will be important as one of the surprising undefeated teams in the NFL, as the Miami Dolphins are next up for Baltimore.