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.
Defensive Line: A
The defensive line got penetration consistently as defined by the fourth-and-goal stop where Haloti Ngata pushed the center 5 yards into the backfield. Seriously, that shouldn't happen that consistently in an NFL game and yet, nearly every week it is something that I bring up. The Ravens were able to bottle up Mark Ingram for only 27 yards, who had topped 100 yards in the past four games. Timmy Jernigan again is showing streaks of greatness as he blew up the offensive line at one point as did Brandon Williams. The Ravens definitely have a young core of guys that will excel in the next few years on the defensive line if they continue to improve like they have this season.
Congratulations to Terrell Suggs on getting his 100th sack of his career. He joins some elite company with his single sack on Monday. Elvis Dumervil continues to impress as he now has 12.5 sacks on the season and is on track for roughly 17 on the year. Consistent pressure from the linebackers helped the secondary out and showed that pressure can come from every single linebacker the Ravens have. Pernell McPhee and Courtney Upshaw both had some good underrated plays that helped define the game as well.
Defensive Backs: B-
The Ravens gave up yardage like they have all season long, but there were some encouraging signs in what the Ravens did. The cornerbacks fought for the ball and Gorrer absolutely knocked that ball out even though the refs got it wrong. Will Hill was the hero of the game with some hits, passes knocked down and his interception returned for a touchdown. Lardarius Webb got beaten deep yet again but also showed some hustle in tracking down Joe Morgan early in the game. Safety Terrance Brooks made a rookie mistake in misplaying the receiver and expecting the ball to land into his arms, only to have Marquis Colston be faster than he thought and catch it for a touchdown. That type of play is a turning point however as it showed that Brooks is learning where he should be and that once the game slows down for him and he can get his bearings, he will make that play instead of giving up a big play.
Special Teams: B+
Justin Tucker hit everything asked of him including a 55 yard field goal that he made look like an extra point. Seriously one of the most gifted kickers in the league and a guy that the Ravens will feel pressure to sign quickly at the end of the season. Jacoby Jones looked average in his returns while taking risks bringing the ball out from the endzone in order to hit a homerun. Coverage teams were average. Sam Koch drilled a 73 yard punt at one point that looked like it could have just kept going forever. On the onside kick, Kamar Aiken made an outstanding leap to secure victory.