Ravens report card: Offense

Ravens report card: Offense
December 9, 2013, 12:00 pm
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"I've never been on a roller coaster like that before"

Now that everyone has been able to brush off the snow and finally exhale, it's time to grade the offense for its job in the Ravens' remarkable, once-in-a-lifetime 29-26 victory over Minnesota:


Nothing figured to be easy in the snow, but Joe Flacco was highly ineffective for three quarters before delivering a late, clutch game-winning drive. Two of them, in fact. He was 9-for-22 for 82 yards with one bad interception in the first half. But when he needed to make some big throws, he delivered, hitting Dennis Pitta on a fourth-down touchdown and then Marlon Brown for the game-winner. Flacco also rambled 22 yards to set up the Ravens first score. Flacco finished 28-for-50 for 245 yards, with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Flacco was again unflappable. He took over after the Vikings took the lead (again) with 45 seconds left and promptly threw a 35-yard strike to Brown, setting up the final, this-time-it's-really final heroics.


Ray Rice had one of his better games of the season, attacking holes with some explosiveness even with lousy footing. He finished with 67 yards on 17 carries and caught five passes for 42 yards, topping 100 all-purpose yards for just the third time this season. Bernard Pierce was a nonfactor, gaining 12 yards on seven carries. And Vonta Leach couldn't gain a yard when he needed to on fourth-and-one.


The line opened some holes for Rice, and the Ravens averaged 3.6 yards a carry, though that was aided by Flacco's 22-yard scramble. In short-yardage situations they continue to lose the battle at the point of attack. It's been a problem all season. Vonta Leach was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-one, and Ray Rice was stuffed for no gain on second-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Flacco was sacked twice and hit hard several other times, and Michael Oher was whistled for his fourth penalty in the past two games.

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Dennis Pitta overcame early rust and dropped passes to show his value to the Ravens offense. He was targeted 11 times and caught six passes for 48 yards, including a touchdown. He also made a couple of clutch third-down grabs, and it is obvious Flacco is simply more comfortable and more confident with Pitta on the field.  Ed Dickson also had his first touchdown catch of the season.


Marlon Brown was targeted 11 times and had seven grabs for 92 yards, both career highs. His 35-yard catch began the final drive, and his game-winning, toe-dragging touchdown catch was outstanding. Torrey Smith had a quiet day, with just one catch and a two-point conversion. Jacoby Jones had four catches for 37 yards, but he also deserves some of the blame for Flacco's third interception. Rather than get his hands up to meet the ball at the highest point, Jones waited for it to land in his chest. Then it bounced off him, and Marcus Sherels grabbed the deflection.