December 31, 2012 in Observations
This week the now 10-6 Baltimore Ravens lost to the 10-6 Cincinnati Bengals. The Ravens rested many key players and others only played two series and then left. Backups played in the last three quarters and some entered near the end of the first quarter. The Bengals played their offensive starters in the first half and backups in the second. On the defensive side, they kept most of their starters in throughout the game. With this loss, the Ravens will be the 4th seed in the playoffs and the Bengals will be the 6th seed. Each team didn't really have anything to gain, hence all the backups playing. The Bengals will face the 3rd seed Houston Texans in Houston on Saturday at 4:30pm ET and the Ravens will host the 5th seed Indianapolis Colts on Sunday at 1pm ET.
Starting quarterback Joe Flacco only played in two series but, since he got the start, he tied the Ravens record for most consecutive starts with 80. He is tied with current San Diego Charger LB Jarret Johnson. On to Taylor, he showed some flashes of great potential against most of the Bengals defensive starters. Most of the plays made by Taylor were with his feet. He either ran the ball or was able to escape the pocket and find a receiver. In the running game he had, by my count, 4 first downs, including a weaving 28 yards run. His rushing touchdown came on a pass play. Taylor ran a bootleg and to escape pressure, he ran the ball into the endzone on 2nd and goal from the 1 yardline. Taylor finished with 9 rushes for 65 yards, some of which were by design on option and others were just him making plays. In the passing game, Taylor finished 15-of-25 for 149 yards, 1 INT, with a QB rating of 60.2 and a QBR of 46. Since the offensive line kept allowing pressure, Taylor didn't have time to sit back and be a pocket quarterback. He did a good job of escaping multiple sacks. Lastly, his interception clinched the game for the Bengals. On a 3rd and 7 near their own endzone, Taylor had a pass batted down at the line by Carlos Dunlap. Dunlap then caught the ball and ran it in for 6 points. Overall, it was good to see what Taylor can do as he hasn't gotten an extended look in a regular season game because of Flacco's consecutive game streak. It was an up and down game for Taylor but, he showed some good potential.
With Ray Rice only getting three rushing attempts, there was plenty of chances for backups Bernard Pierce and Anthony Allen. Rice had 3 rushes for 5 yards and was called for an unnecessary roughness penalty for a late block which put the Ravens out of field goal range on their first drive. In his defense, Rice had his back to the play and probably didn't know Flacco had thrown the ball.
Bernard Pierce had another good performance rushing 22 times for 89 yards against the 12th ranked rushing defense in the league which only allowed 107.2 yards per game (the Ravens totaled 206 yards). Pierce ran for 3 first downs, by my count, including a 4th and 1 conversion on the opening drive. Throughout the game he didn't go down on first contact and seemed to always get positive yards. In the passing game, he caught 1 pass for 4 yards. He also had a miscommunication with Taylor on a 3rd down pass route which would have led to a pick 6 if the defender hadn't dropped the ball. He also dropped a swing pass and had bad blitz pickup on a TE screen which led to the ball being thrown away. During the 3rd quarter, he limped off the field but was able to come back and finish the game. Allen had more attempts and rushing yards yesterday, than his entire career. He had 10 rushes for 41 yards and scored his first career touchdown. His only first down came on a 20 yard run off the option which set the Ravens up on the 2 yardline. On the next play, he scored a touchdown.
Allen also had 1 catch for 7 yards. This was a great performance for any number 3 running back, especially when you consider he was on the originally assigned to the practice squad but then signed to the active roster just before the season opener.
Overall, the Ravens running backs played well against a very good Bengals Defense.
Once all the starters were out, Reed was in at WR for the rest of the game. He had 3 catches for 44 yards on 4 targets. Two of his catches went for first downs and, both of the first downs were important. The first came with under 30 seconds left in the 1st half, helping the Ravens move the ball downfield for a possible field goal before halftime. The other first down occurred on 2nd and 16 and went for a gain of 23 yards. This season is the first time Reed has seen more than a few plays at receiver and he has 5 catches for 66 yards to show for it.
Dickson played TE great yesterday and had a statline similar to what starter Dennis Pitta has each game. Not only did Dickson have 6 catches for 64 yards on 8 targets, he led the Ravens in catches, receiving yards, and targets. Of his 6 catches, 4 went for first downs, which is another thing that Pitta does most of the time. Tyrod Taylor looked very comfortable throwing to Dickson throughout the game, and the statline shows it.
The main stat to look at for offensive line is sacks. The Ravens line failed this test by allowing 4 sacks for a loss of 37 yards. However, the running blocking by the line was much better paving the way for 206 rushing yards. Now for individual notes.
Starting on the left side, LT Michael Oher was part of 3 of these sacks. On a 3rd and 10, he allowed a sack with LG Jah Reid. He then left the game like most starters but, then returned when RT Kelechi Osemele left with an undisclosed injury. At RT, he allowed a sack on a 3rd down and another sack with RG Bobbie Williams with under two minutes left in the game. Lastly, Oher was blocking Dunlap when he tipped the ball and intercepted it for a touchdown.
Bryant McKinnie came in for Oher at LT, and he wasn't much better. With the Ravens backed up inside their own 10, McKinnie had a false start. He also allowed a sack inside the 10 putting the ball on the 1 yardline. Lastly, he should have allowed another sack but, Taylor was able to escape the pass rusher.
By comparison, LG Jah Reid had a much better game. Sack wise, he split credit with Oher for one sack.
Bobbie Williams started at RG in place of Marshal Yanda. Williams was called for 3 penalties and allowed a sack. On one drive, he had a false start on 1st down. Then on 2nd down, he was called for an unnecessary roughness which set up a 3rd and 27 which killed the drive. Later in the game on a 2nd and 2, he was called for a holding which took away a first down run by Taylor.
Last, is RT Kelechi Osemele. He was only called for a false start. When the backups came in, he stayed, but then left with an undisclosed injury and never returned. This isn't expected to be serious and he should be fine for next week.
Usually, a NT, Kemoeatu started at DE because Haloti Ngata was inactive. In Ngata's place, Kemoeatu had his best game of the season. On a 3rd and 2 play, he had his first sack of the season for a loss of 1. When the Bengals were near midfield, Kemoeatu helped stop a 3rd and 1 run for no gain. Later on in the game he stopped a run play on first down for a loss of 3. His other tackle came on a run play that resulted in a gain of 1.
While Cody didn't make it into the box score, he still had an impact on the game. In the 3rd quarter, he was called for roughing the passer on 1st down which put the Bengals on the Ravens 37 yardline. The Bengals would eventually score a field goal. Later on, Cody had pressure on a 2nd and 10 play. This pressure cause the quarterback to throw the ball away. The Bengals were trying to run a screen on this play but never got the chance to. Even more important was that the Bengals had the ball on the Ravens 15 yardline. The Bengals couldn't do anything on 3rd down so they ended up kicking a field goal.
In what could possibly be the last game of the season for the Ravens without Ray Lewis, Ellerbe played great. While he only had 6 tackles, he made the most of them. On a 3rd and 3, Ellerbe stopped a run for a gain of 1. Ellerbe continues to be a great blitzer. On one play, he timed the snap count perfectly and went untouched to the quarterback. However, he wasn't able to take the quarterback down. With under 2 minutes left in the 1st half, Ellerbe blew up a screen. He read it perfectly and ran past all the blockers, stopping the screen for a loss of 2 yards. Lastly, he did get a sack later in the game when the snap was fumbled and the quarterback just stayed on the ground after recovering the fumble.
On the play where Ellerbe wasn't able to get a sack, Kruger was able to finish the play and push the scrambling quarterback out-of-bounds for the sack. This sack resulted in a loss of only 1. It put Kruger at 9 sacks for the year which is a career high. He will be a free agent in to offseason so it will be interesting to see what kind of contract that he gets. On a rare play where Kruger dropped into pass coverage, he was able to bat down a pass. This occurred on a 3rd and 9 play inside the Ravens 20, forcing the Bengals to a field goal.
The Baltimore Ravens only allowed 15 completed passes on 26 attempts. Of these 15 completed passes, only 7 of these were completed against CBs, based on my count. On these 15 completed passes, the average yards gained were a dismal 5.5. This means the secondary played very well, in fact the whole defense only allowed 189 yards, 142 of which were in the air.
Corey Graham started the game but played very little. He only allowed 1 completed pass and this went for a first down.
Chris Johnson received extended playing time for the first time this season. He allowed the most passes of all CBs for the Ravens yesterday, but still only gave up 3 passes. Of these, he allowed 0 first downs but, he gave up a touchdown with 39 seconds left in the 1st half.
Chykie Brown played great for the second straight game. He only allowed 1 pass to be completed against him. On a 3rd and 9 play on the Bengals first drive, Brown broke up a pass. He made a great play to reach his arm around the receiver to deflect the ball.
Jimmy Smith had the most playing time since his return from a sport hernia injury. In the time, he allowed 2 passes to be completed. None of these two were for first downs but, he was called for a 21 yard pass interference which went for a first down. This occurred on a 3rd down and put the ball on the Ravens 15. It also took away an interception as the ball was tipped by the Bengals receiver and Omar Brown was able to catch it. Lastly, Smith had a great pass breakup. He was in single, man coverage on a deep pass near the endzone. Smith was able to get his hands on the ball and almost intercepted it. This is a positive game for Smith and he showed his potential.