Ravens report card--defense/special teams

Ravens report card--defense/special teams
December 30, 2013, 11:00 am
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Flacco: We wasted a lot of chances

Cincinnati Bengals running back Gio Bernard (25) runs the ball during the third quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 34-17.

(Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports)

The defense played well at times, but in the end they couldn’t do enough as the Bengals ended the Ravens’ season with 17 points in the fourth quarter en route to a 34-17 victory Sunday.

DEFENSIVE LINE: C-. The Ravens couldn’t get a lot of pressure on Andy Dalton, who, despite throwing four interceptions, made a number of good plays. Arthur Jones (concussion) was out and that hurt. The line stopped Cincinnati’s running game at times in short-yardage spots, but not enough to be a force in the game.

LINEBACKERS: D. Jameel McClain finished with eight tackles, and Daryl Smith played well again to end up with five. But Terrell Suggs (one tackle) and Elvis Dumervil (none) were curiously absent and non-factors on a day when the Ravens needed them a lot. Smith gave the defense a lift throughout the season and McClain did well at times also after coming back from last season’s injury problems.

[RELATED: Flacco misses playoffs for first time]

SECONDARY: C. The defensive backs picked off four Dalton passes – including one on the game’s first play by Corey Graham and another in the end zone from Jimmy Smith—but the Bengals quarterback made throws for a number of big plays that proved costly. Matt Elam finished with a team-high 10 tackles and made some good plays at times on passes and run support but missed on an interception he could have had in the second half.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B+. Justin Tucker bounced back from missing a field goal last week to make three this time. It’s easy and sad to see why the kicker was named the team’s MVP. He finished the season with a team-record 38 field goals and made 36 of his final 37 kicks this year. Sam Koch continued to punt well, especially in some tough spots, and Jacoby Jones really pushed to break one on returns.  He nearly got loose a few times in the second half, and that's the good thing about Jones. He's always trying to make a play and often does.