Baltimore Ravens vs Buffalo Bills Post-Game Report Card
Baltimore Ravens vs. Buffalo Bills Post-Game Report Card
The Baltimore Ravens traveled to take on a young Buffalo Bills team in a game that, on paper, should have been a solid win for the defending Super Bowl champs. As the schedule gets tougher in coming weeks, the Ravens did not do themselves any favors as they fell victim to a textbook “trap” game.
Baltimore was beaten in all phases of the game and failed to execute what should have been a painfully obvious game plan: stop the run, pressure the rookie quarterback and establish your own running game against of the league’s worst rush defenses.
Instead, they got pushed and bullied for 60 minutes in a game they had no business losing by only three points. Joe Flacco was pressured and off target, the running game never got going, and the proud defensive unit gave up over 200 yards on the ground to C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.
Somehow, some way, the team was still in position to sneak out of Buffalo with a win late in the game, but Flacco’s fifth interception sealed it for the home squad. In a game as utterly embarrassing as this one, there is plenty of blame to go around -- but who deserves it most? And did anyone play up to their salary?
Click along to see this week’s report card and find out how it all went wrong for the Ravens.
One does not need to do much more than to point at Joe Flacco's box score to sum up his game. A horrid five-interception day was just as bad as it sounded, as Flacco made bad reads and missed his receivers time and time again. Even four interceptions deep, the Ravens had a chance to pull the game out late in the fourth quarter when Flacco forced a ball into double coverage for his fifth interception to cement the game in the Bills' favor. With a completion percentage at an ugly 50 percent, this was possibly Flacco's worst day as a pro.
On paper, this looked like a dream matchup for the Ravens' talented duo of Bernard Pierce and Ray Rice. Even with Rice coming off an injury, the Bills' 30th-ranked rush defense looked inviting for Baltimore's current version of "thunder and lightning."
Instead, Rice and Pierce combined for just 24 yards rushing. Some of that can be chalked up to the interceptions, as the backs were never able to get a rhythm going. The play-calling and interceptions deserve some of the blame here, as Pierce and Rice only got nine total carries and never got into a rhythm. But when your long carry of the day goes for only seven yards, some of that blame has to go to the guys carrying the rock as well.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Torrey Smith went off for 166 yards and a touchdown, and was a shoestring tackle away from carrying the Ravens to victory. However, his five catches were off of 12 targets, and his route-running, while improved, is still not where it needs to be for a consistent no. 1 wideout.
Undrafted rookie Marlon Brown impressed again as he made some tough catches in traffic and hauled in his third touchdown of the season. He will continue to be a matchup nightmare in the red zone for opposing secondaries and as he gains experience, he could prove to be that safety valve that departed Baltimore as soon as Anquan Boldin packed his bags.
The team still did not get much production from the tight ends, and Ed Dickson deserved some of the blame for one of Flacco's interceptions. Overall, some of the same questions that plagued this team coming into the season still remain in the receiving corps.
Any time you start a game out with back-to-back penalties and pin your team at your own four-yard line, you are not going to get good marks. The line did not open any holes when they did run the ball, and allowed four sacks when Flacco dropped back.
This unit needs a lot of work if the Ravens want to take on the undefeated Miami Dolphins's sack master Cameron Wake and avoid dropping a game below .500 next week.
The Ravens' defensive line was continuously dominated at the point of attack. Baltimore had to know Buffalo would work to establish the running game to help out their rookie quarterback, and still got bullied for over 200 yards of rushing offense. When E.J. Manuel did drop back to pass, the results were not much better, as the defensive lineman accounted for just one sack and otherwise did not not bring consistent pressure to rattle the young passer.
Terrell Suggs played like a man possessed on Sunday with 17 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and three more hits of E.J. Manuel. Otherwise, this was not a very productive unit. They deserve some of the blame for the Bills' dominant rushing attack and outside of Suggs, only Daryl Smith (12 tackles, one interception) made his mark on the game.
Even without top cornerback Lardarius Webb, who left with a thigh injury, this unit was the team's lone bright spot on Sunday. Webb's replacement, Corey Graham, picked off Manuel, and the unit held to the rookie QB to an ugly day overall with a completion percentage below 50 and just 167 yards passing.
Top wideout Stevie Johnson, usually the beneficiary of a Bills' victory, was completely shut down with only one catch for negative one yard. Though rookie wide receiver Robert Woods benefited from the attention thrown Johnson's way with 80 yards and a touchdown, this was still an excellent day for the defensive backs.
The only positive thing that can be said about this unit is that it did not turn the ball over. Tandon Doss made a horrible decision on a punt return that pinned the Ravens deep in their own territory and overall, the offense was forced to start inside their own territory six times. Kicker Justin Tucker made a couple of chip shot field goals, and punter Sam Koch managed to pin the Bills inside their own 20 on two occasions.
This had a "trap game" feeling written over it all week, and any time a team falls into the trap, you have to look at the coaching. With back-to-back penalties to kick off the game, the Ravens looked ill-prepared from the start and it continued throughout the game.
The fact that Baltimore only lost by three in spite of five Joe Flacco interceptions shows you how much better the Ravens are than the Bills. While it was painfully obvious Flacco was having an off day, offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell still had him chuck the ball 50 times, while they ran it only nine times against the league's 30th-ranked defense. Play-calling like that is simply unacceptable.
If Baltimore has any visions of defending its Super Bowl title, these are games the teams has to win. With games against Miami and the Green Bay Packers coming up, the schedule does not get any easier in the coming weeks.