The Ravens fall to 5-3 after a tough loss in Cincinnati with several player losses due to injury. Today, we'll look at how each position group did in week 8 and grade them out.
After posting up some of his best outings of his career, Joe Flacco comes immediately back to earth with a downright awful performance. 50 percent completion, 195-yards and two interceptions leave him with a 43.1 QB rating on the day. However, the stats while terrible don't count the terrible effort the receivers put in with their stopped or incorrectly run routes. One of the interceptions was completely on Torrey Smith getting hit during his route and stopping dead on the field, leading to the pass intended for him going to the cornerback's chest. Several overthrows and another interception that should have never even been thought about unfortunately cause Flacco to take the blame that he deserves.
Running backs: C+
Justin Forsett put the ball on the ground once and looked rather pedestrian against one of the worst rush defenses in the league so far. Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro got more snaps as the game wore on and scored the Ravens' lone two touchdowns on Sunday. He was able to weave in and out of traffic and churn his feet on contact to pick up extra yards as well as be the Ravens best receiver for the day with 2 catches and 42 yards. Bernard Pierce was a healthy scratch and is looking at being third on the depth chart with the type of game Taliferro had. Slightly better than average as a unit solely from the scores as the Ravens combined for just over 100 yards and a measly 4.1 ypc average.
Offensive Line: C-
The offensive line played about as average as you can call it. While the unit as a whole had injuries just about everywhere at some point and guys were cycling in and out; a single sack and several pressures of Joe Flacco as well as the team averaging only 4.1 yards per carry just is inexcusable against a defense that his in the bottom half of the league in sacks and rushing yards allowed per game. This unit can play a lot better even without several key elements, so this turnout is rather weak.
Tight Ends: C
Crockett Gillmore appearance due to Owen Daniels being out with his knee operation. While only catching two passes for 23 yards, Gillmore did a good job as a blocker, which is typically how he has been used previously. However, only two passes going to the tight end position ultimately means that he wasn't able to get open as much as you would like or that Joe Flacco just doesn't quite trust him yet. While this is a bright spot for the young player and I expect him to grow into a much more consistent weapon, Sunday was a mediocre game for a position that is usually called upon far more.
Wide Receivers: C-
While it seems that every receiver got involved in the game, the Ravens were unable to find Torrey Smith yet again, in what is becoming a rather annoying pattern for the fourth year receiver. While he went to the locker room to undergo concussion testing, he did play a significant number of snaps. More than enough to have more than the 2 targets he had. Steve Smith almost had a huge stat line on Sunday if he was able to come down with the pass without the pass interference call, but his day is skewed by running routes at half speed or just giving up on them as he ended with only three receptions out of nine total targets. Seriously, giving up on plays in the middle of them is something that this receiving group just can't have happen.
The young players were far more impressive with Michael Campanaro catching everything thrown his way including an amazing diving grab that will be a part of his highlight reel.
I love the aggression from the coaching staff, but going for it on fourth down on your first drive when you can easily kick a field goal in a game you know will come down to the wire... that is just stupid. Sadly, if it worked, we would all be praising the coaching staff for having the balls to do it, but unfortunately the game gets marked down as a loss and by only 3 points. Yet again, concentration issues in this game also provided a major factor in the loss just as it did with the first game and you have to wonder how prepared they were to play on Sunday when they looked outclassed by a team that has just been embarrassed in previous weeks. You also have to question how the Ravens continue to enter each week with a severely limited number of cornerbacks suiting up. It cost the Ravens this week when Jimmy Smith went down and they were forced to slide safeties over to cover guys one on one.
The gutsy decision that backfired is what give us this grade more than anything and without it, the outcome could have very well been different as would the grade have been.