Grading the Ravens: defense/special teams

Grading the Ravens: defense/special teams
October 7, 2013, 11:00 am

Lardarius Webb: "Defense got heart like lions."

The defense and special teams did a much better job in Sunday's 26-23 win at Miami. Here's a quick report card of the various parts:

DEFENSIVE LINE: A. This line constantly disrupted the Miami offense and worked hard on a very hot afternoon. Players like Haloti Ngata completely shut down the Dolphins' running game, allowing just 22 yards, and forced quarterback Ryan Tannehill to throw 40 times. In turn, that allowed the pass rush to really tee off on Tannehill. It was a dominating performance. 

LINEBACKERS: A-. A lot of people made a lot of plays. Terrell Suggs seemed to spend the whole fourth quarter in the Miami backfield and finished with three sacks; the Ravens had six overall. Elvis Dumervil's sack on the final series pushed the Dolphins back and made them try a too-long field goal. Daryl Smith again seemed to be everywhere as the solid play from the defensive line helped this group out. The Dolphins couldn't find the answer. 

SECONDARY: C-. Once again, this group gave up too many big plays. That's been a problem all season and nearly cost the Ravens in this game. They made several good plays but the long passes really hurt. That's something this unit's really got to fix. 

SPECIAL TEAMS: B-. Justin Tucker saved the day with his four field goals, especially the long ones. Punter Sam Koch was strangely off, although he did hit a couple of good punts that pinned the Dolphins deep a few times. Tandon Doss again did a nice job on punt returns, and Deonte Thompson was solid on kickoff returns -- including a 47-yarder. But again, there were penalties. They seem to come on a regular basis and need to be controlled.