I guess I should be happy knowing that the Ravens actually played a close game against the best team in the NFL, and they did it without the services of CB Jimmy Smith, who was sorely missed today. They did it despite the boneheaded penalties of Jeremy Zuttah costing the Ravens offense points. They did it with Shareece Wright being, well, Shareece Wright. They did it with Devin Hester watching a catchable ball bounce towards the goal line.
But for me? There’s no such thing as a moral victory.
The Ravens lost to a far superior team in every aspect of the game, and along the way the they showed us exactly why they’ll be lucky to be a wild card team come January. The holes in the roster were glaring and infinite. The star players flopped. The rookies were embarrassed, while Dallas’ rookies let us see which organization knows how to draft and which needs a face lift. This team is just good – at best. They aren’t a contender. Period.
Ugh… grades. I guess. Whatever.
Joe Flacco had no fewer than three back-foot throws. And cross body throws. And fade away throws.
Missing wide open receivers, throwing across his body to the middle of the field to literally nobody… this has become the norm, and it should not be acceptable. This sums up Joe’s day:
-1st Quarter shot for Wallace downfield: The WR had position but pulled up on Joe’s short throw. Incomplete.
-3rd Quarter throw behind Wallace on a 3rd & 5 for a short gain & punt: Had Flacco hit him in stride? 1st down.
-4th quarter down 10 under 2 minutes with no timeouts: Flacco throws underneath to Steve Smith Sr. for 5 yards.
Flacco’s mechanics and decision-making have gone from good, to average, to absolutely inexcusable.
The rumblings will only get louder…
Offensive Line: C-
The offensive line did a great job early, opening lanes for the running game & keeping Flacco upright, but eventually Jeremy Zuttah decided to sabotage the team with three absolutely dumb penalties. Those flags cost the Ravens points that they could have used in the end (not that they know how to run a two-minute drill anyway).
Wide Receivers: A
It was the Mike Wallace & Steve Smith Sr. show all day long.
Wallace reeled in five catches for 62 yards, one of which came on the shoestring variety early in the 1st quarter and had fans on the edge of their seats. He was a misstep away from a circus catch for a touchdown in the second, but stepped out of bounds. Wallace did fumble on a catch in the middle of the field, but Kamar Aiken saved his butt.
Steve Smith Sr. easily had the best day we’ve seen from him this season with eight catches for 99 yards and a touchdown. While statistically speaking, it was his 3rd eight-catch game this season and not his highest yardage output, the fire Smitty brought to the field was, in my opinion, the only thing that kept hope alive when they went down by two touchdowns.
Oh, and Smitty broke 1,000 career receptions on the day so props for that!!
Also, Kamar Aiken had three catches while Breshad Perriman went back into hiding.
Tight Ends: D
We have TEs?
Dennis Pitta caught three balls for 30 yards somewhere in this game I guess (I don’t recall it) and Darren Waller had a nice block on Steve Smith Sr.’s 18-yd 1st down in the 4th quarter near the end of the game. That’s about it. Can’t block to save their lives without Crockett Gillmore around.
Running Backs: B
Just like I used to say in the Marc Trestman days, I can’t fault a positional group for being under utilized. For example, 14 carries today for Kenneth Dixon and Terrance West. COMBINED. And most of that damage was done early in the game. They did manage respectable yards per carry (5.3 for West, 6.7 for Dixon) but they never got the chance to do more.
Defensive Line: C-
Tale of two halves. Early in the game, the D-Line had no problem getting pressure on Dak Prescott, and did well holding up against the inside run game.
Come the end of the first half and the entire second half and suddenly? No pressure whatsoever, getting gashed in the run game, hands on the hips and total frustration set in.
Blame it on being worn down or on the offense’s inability to sustain a drive, but with their rotation, they should have done more (personally, I blame Dean Pees for backing off what worked in the first quarter).
Terrell Suggs was the saving grace for this unit today. In the first half he was on Dak Prescott fairly often, but disappeared in the second half.
Otherwise, the linebackers had trouble setting the edge early with Ezekiel Elliott getting around easily on both sides. The ILB’s struggled in coverage in the second half BIG TIME, typically giving Elliott and the Cowboys’ tight ends massive cushions underneath and allowing Dak Prescott to dink and dunk his way to a victory.
The biggest play from the unit all day was courtesy of Matt Judon, who had a MONSTER shot on Prescott on a 3rd & 11 to force a punt in the 2nd quarter. Yay….
We miss you Jimmy Smith. Please come back next week. And every week thereafter. Forever. Amen.
With Jimmy out of the lineup, Dez Bryant had himself a day, and with no real challenges whatsoever. Tavon Young is far too small and inexperienced to cover Dez, Jerraud Powers is just not good, and Shareece Wright makes me miss Chykie Brown. With a bum leg. And one arm tied behind his back. Wearing a blindfold.
Seriously, Wright was largely responsible for the 1st & 30 conversion, and 17 of the 27 Dallas points today. And thanks to Kanye, I’m pushing the new Baltimore hashtag.
There were a few highlights worth noting: Young had a great backfield tackle on Elliott, showing his promise. Eric Weddle had a monster hit on Terrence Williams on a 3rd down incompletion.
Okay. That was it.
Special Teams: C-
The Cowboys extensive scoring drives left the Ravens to take a ton of knees in the end zone on kickoffs, with few punt returns to talk about. But when Devin Hester had a chance? He pulled his usual ‘wave fair catch, watch the ball hit and roll to the goal line’ play. Honestly, if he’s active next week and Asa Jackson is not? I’m gonna lose my mind.
Also, Sam Koch did what he does best: a 38-yard shank of a punt. There’s one botched punt every game folks. Pay attention.
The aforementioned Judon had a bone-headed offsides on a kickoff that ended up costing the Ravens’ 15 yards of field position late in the game.
Also, Justin Tucker was one-for-one so, yanno… Horray…
TEAM GRADE: C-
Ultimately, the Ravens were beat by a far superior team. Their 12 penalties for an ungoldy amount of yards showed their usual lack of discipline and cost them points.
Sure they could have won the game had they actually played with discipline and stuck to game plans that seemed to work early on. And sure, if Flacco would have planted his foot a few times they could have likely sustained long drives, giving the defense more rest and keeping Prescott, who dismantled the gimpy secondary off the field….
Now I’m mad. I change my mind.
TEAM GRADE: D
Thanksgiving is going to suck now. Great.