The Baltimore Ravens got a good look at the majority of their back up or second and third tier players in Sundays loss to the division rival Cincinnati Bengals. Some played well, some played poorly and some had up and down plays in which they didn't help of hurt their cause.
Much of the focus was on corner back Chykie Brown as he had a monster game against the New York giants. Brown did a decent job of keeping in position and staying to the right side of the receiver on most plays. However he did get beat for a long play on a double move by one of the Bengals receivers. Bengals back up quarterback Bruce Gradkowski made a nice pump fake and the receiver sold the out route well before heading up the sideline for a huge gain. What can you say? it was a well executed play by the Bengals offense and most NFL corners would have has trouble trying to recover from the double move. I give Chykie a B for his efforts because he was still a very sure tackler and that was the only big play he allowed.
Jimmy Smith on the other hand has a costly pass interference penalty that put the Bengals in field goal range late in the game to re-take the lead on the Ravens. Smith also had a few nice plays that will not be noticed by the casual fan but cause Bengals quarterbacks to hold the ball to long and end up with either a sack or incompletion. Smith gets a solid C in my book. He is getting there but still has some work to do, like getting his head around when the ball is in the air. He could still end up being a good cover corner in the NFL.
Terrence Cody and Make Kemoatu both played very well against the Bengals back ups and actually didn't look bad against the starters either, allowing virtually no running lanes for the offense. Both players had plays in which they burst through the offensive line, Haloti Ngata style and cause major pressure on the qb. Both players get solid B+'s in my book.
The Ravens were constantly plagued with bad field position because of poor play by their kick return team. Punter Sam Koch booted a knuckle ball punt on one instance giving the Bengals the ball on the Ravens side of the field. So special teams gets a D at the most for this game. I hope Jacoby Jones and company were just treating this as an exhibition game and we will not see this rear it's ugly head again in the game against Indianapolis.
As I said earlier the Ravens were plagued with bad field position throughout the game so second string quarterback Tyrod Taylor had little to work with but besides his bone-headed pick six to Carlos Dunlap I'd say he played pretty well for his first real, in-game playing time. his speed and elusiveness were on display for all to see and he did score the games first touchdown on an impressive drive in his first series. I give Taylor a C+, which would have been a solid B had he not gift wrapped six points for the other team.
Coming into this game I wouldn't have given the Ravens back ups a chance against the Bengals starters but they certainly held their own out there and showed a lot of heart. Some honorable mentions go to Ed Dickson, who seems to be regaining his earlier form, who gives the Ravens yet another dangerous receiving target and Anthony Allen who made the most of the time he had on the field and showed that he can play with the big boys. By no means will Allen challenge Bernard Pierce for the number two spot behind Ray Rice though. Pierce could easily be a starter on many NFL teams and we are lucky to have him. He was worth the two mid round picks we used to get him.
David Reed also had a very nice game and showed why the Ravens chose to keep him around and Dannell ellerbe and Paul Kruger both looked like they are more than ready for playoff football. I can't wait to see the whole unit on display against Andrew Luck and the Colts on Sunday. This defense has really grown over the past few months and I think they will surprise a lot of people in the playoffs.