Monday night. New Orleans. Brees vs Flacco. The Ravens came out ahead 34-27 in one of their better played games this season. Let's dive into the specifics and find out exactly how good each group did.
Joe Flacco played the game cautious and rather pedestrian as the stats will show. But when you have a 75% completion percentage and a touchdown with no interceptions, that earns you a passing grade in my book. Flacco is a guy that isn't nearly as dependent on gaudy yardage numbers like Peyton Manning is, and it showed in one of the more impressive games this year by Flacco.
Running backs: A
You really can't ask or expect more out of this group. Let's start with the man of the evening, Justin Forsett. 182 yards on the ground on 22 carries gives him an 8.3 average! Add in the two touchdowns for the night as well as his two receptions and you have one hell of a game from the journeyman. Bernard Pierce added 28 yards but was generally ineffective on all but one of his carries. Kyle Juszczyk finally got some love in the passing game, catching three passes and nearly busting one in for a score if it weren't for his fumble.
Offensive Line: A-
Whenever a team rushes for over 200 yards, the offensive line was dominant. Big holes in the rushing game meant that Forsett had large runs left, right and center. Pass protection was better than it has been in previous weeks with Flacco only being sacked once.
Tight Ends: C-
The Ravens barely used their tight ends against the Saints. Owen Daniels ended with two catches for only seven yards. Crockett Gillmore got pushed around pretty frequently as a blocker and had one of his worst games of the year in all respects.
Wide Receivers: B+
Smith and Smith looked good and feisty Monday night. Both were chippy after the play and both were able to channel that frustration into big plays as Steve Smith ended with 89 yards and one of the best touchdown catches of the year. Torrey Smith led the Ravens with 98 yards on a variety of routes, showing that he can actually run something than straight ahead. The rest of the receiving corps didn't get much attention since the night was a rushing feast. If the Ravens get this type of production from their receivers in every game, they will be incredibly tough to stop.
The Ravens coaching did an admirable job against the Saints. It was clear that they studied what the Saints sucked at and continued to try and hit that. At times on offense, the play selection got a little too cute for my comfort as we saw with a reverse on third and one when the Ravens were gashing the Saints for nearly 10 yards per carry at that point. Defensively, the Ravens did what they needed to do but blitzing is still apparent to everyone in the stadium. The players stepped up and turned a mediocre defensive coaching job into a stand and some great individual plays.