Ravens 10, Broncos 9 : Week 13 – Recap & Grades :
Offense – Another ugly showing by this group as they continue to struggle without LT Ronnie Stanley, RB JK Dobbins, WR Rashod Bateman & now QB Lamar Jackson who suffers a strained PCL at the end of the 1st quarter after being sacked by Broncos LB Jonathan Cooper & will be out 1-3 weeks. Tyler Huntley comes in to replace Jackson & goes 27/32 for 187 yards & 1 INT through the air but also leads the way on the ground as well as he rushes for 41 yards on 10 carries, an average of 4.1 yards per carry , including the game-winning TD w/ :28 seconds left after leading a 16 play, 9-yard drive against the 3rd ranked defense in the league. Kenyan Drake carries it 7 times for 29 yards, also an average of 4.1 yards per carry as the offense rushes for 103 total yards on the day on 28 rushes, an average of 3.7 yards per carry. Mark Andrews hauls in 4 passes for 53 yards, an average of 13.3 yards per reception & Demarcus Robinson catches 7 passes for 41 yards, an average of 5.9 yards per reception, Devin Duvernay totals 43 yards as he rushes for 9 on 2 carries, an average of 4.5 yards per carry & catches 6 passes for 34 yards, an average of 5.7 yards per catch as Tyler Huntley worked the ball underneath a lot & took very few kill shots downfield like Jackson does. The play calling by OC Greg Roman was once again poor & his worst call of the day comes when he dials up a reverse pass on 2nd down at the Denver 29 as WR James Proche II throws into quadruple coverage & gives S Justin Simmons his 2nd INT of the day, just a terrible decision by Roman to call it but an even worse decision to throw it by Proche. The pass protection holds up well despite losing backup LT Patrick Mekari in the 1st half & Rookie Daniel Faalele holds his own once again in pass protection as the Broncos aggressive pass rush registers 4 sacks on the day – 2 on Jackson for a loss of 10 yards, including the one by Cooper that injures him & 2 on Huntley for a loss of 6 yards. The offensive line play was way better when Stanley was starting & has dropped off since he got injured again, RT Morgan Moses has been good but the penalties by him continue to kill this group & RG Kevin Zeitler’s play has also dropped off from last season. They continue to struggle in the red zone but Huntley finally puts an end to that w/ his go-ahead score & the clock issues of breaking the huddle late & getting the plays off seemed to go away as Huntley was in command & they even went no huddle w/ no issues or penalties. This unit struggled to the tune of 3-13 on 3rd down but excelled on 4th down going 3-3 including converting a huge 4th & 2 on the Denver 15 w/ a 3-yard run by Huntley. They hold the ball for 32:29 to Denver’s 27:31 not exactly dominant but they do win the TOP battle, they also run 69 plays to Denver’s 52 & only outgain them 285 to 272. Huntley engineers both scoring drives as he also leads a 10 Play, 62-yard drive that leads to a FG by Tucker in the 2nd quarter to tie the game & despite the struggles of this group in recent weeks no matter who the QB has been, Huntley was able to do enough to lead the game-winning drive & win a game that they almost had no business winning. So now this team faces almost the exact same position that it was in last season when Jackson went down & Huntley took over, going 0-3 in the final 3 games after winning against Chicago a few weeks earlier when Jackson was sick. The difference is this season there is way more talent around him w/ the exception of the WR position & the defense has play makers. Overall, an ugly, gutsy effort that equaled a win but playing like this will not get it done against the AFC’s elite.
Grade : C
Defense – A great effort by this group against an enept offense but they did what they were supposed to do by keeping an offense that has struggled to find the end zone out of it again. They hold the Broncos to just 272 total yards on the day, as former Raven, Latavius Murray runs for 47 yards on 17 carries, average of 2.8 yards per carry & catches 4 passes for 41 yards out of the backfield, an average of 3.5 yards per catch. Russell Wilson passes for just 189 yards, as he goes 17/22 on the day & is sacked twice by the Ravens pass rush for a loss of 5 yards as CB Marlon Humphrey & OLB Odafe Oweh each get to Wilson. They struggle to contain TE Greg Dulcich who hauls in 85 yards on 6 catches, an average of 14.2 yards per reception & that same before mentioned pass rush is dialed back a little bit by a Denver offensive line that is able keep Wilson upright for most of the day. This group registers fewer than 3 sacks for the first time in 8 games as they had really been getting after it as of late but were taken down a notch in this game. What they did best in this game was basically just get stops & force the offense off the field as they Denver goes just 2-12 on 3rd down, including 3 3 & outs but their streak of forcing a turnover ends at 14 games. This group just kept getting after it no matter what despite what the offense was doing as ILB Roquan Smith’s presence continues to be felt to the tune of 11 tackles & despite losing ILB Patrick Queen to a thigh injury late in the game they kept plugging away & keeping the Ravens in the game. They hold Denver to only 3 FG’s as the Broncos have drives of 11 plays, 3 plays, 5 plays, 3 plays, 5 plays, 3 plays, 8 plays, 5 plays, 4 plays, 5 plays, 5 plays & 4 plays on the day to keep them out of the end zone. DC Mike McDonald’s scheme is hit or miss although they’ve been more hit then miss of late they looked great against Carolina & Denver but had a rough one against Jacksonville w/ a Pittsburgh team who isn’t exactly a Juggernaut looming next. This is the time for the defense to carry this team because scoring may be a little down w/ Huntley in although you have to feel good about this team’s chances based on the opponents. If this group can continue to force turnovers & dial up the pressure they can go hand in hand w/ an offense that’s gonna be a lot of ball control, run the football & dominate the clock style of play. It’s time for the leaders on this unit to step up & rise to the occasion because they will be leaned on heavily in the coming weeks. The elite teams in the AFC will pose a way bigger threat then this Broncos team who is offensively challenged, it’s time to get serious as guys are also getting healthy at the right time. Overall, they did their job & played well despite not forcing turnovers or doing anything dynamic while the team earned a win, not too much you can complain about there.
Grade : A-
Special Teams : Justin Tucker connects on his only FG, Jordan Stout has a busy day & this group was solid once again as they helped this team pick up a hard earned win. Tucker hits from 26 yards out in the 2nd quarter to tie the game & watches as the offense fails to sustain drives & his fellow P kicks it away 6 times for 303 yards, an average of 50.5 yards per punt, including a long of 63 yards & 5 touchbacks. Pro-Bowl return man, Devin Duvernay returns 3 kicks for 62 yards, an average of 20.7 yards per return & 1 punt for 3 yards on 7 punts by Broncos P Corliss Waitman, while LS Nick Moore, CB Kevon Seymour & CB Daryl Worley each make big tackles on Broncos KR Montrell Washington who is held to 26 yards on 2 kick returns, an average of 13.0 yards per return & upman, TE Eric Suebert runs back a kick for 6 yards as well for Denver. The defense holds until the final :02 when K Brandon McManus ironically misses from 63 yards as the kick falls short a week after Tucker’s 67-yarder fell a yard or two short in Jacksonville as several Ravens also lunge & leap to try to block the game-winner. Worley & Seymour have carved out roles for themselves along w/ ILB Kristian Welch as this unit continues to roll along as one of the best in the league from the kicking aspect to the smallest attention to detail, this group strives to get even better then they already are behind ST Coach Chris Horton. The names have changed but the results continue to stay the same in Charm City, this group rarely blinks when called upon to do their job & it’s been like that for the last decade or so – of the 3 phases of the game this group comes in #1 just ahead of the defense because they may be the most important part of this team. Jordan Stout is growing into a solid punter in this league after some tutelage from former Raven, Sam Koch & Justin Tucker shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. Duvernay is a threat to break one every time he touches the ball & Worley, Seymour, Welch & Hill are all picking up the slack for the veterans who have departed like (Co-Cap) S Anthony Levine & S Jordan Richards who were some of the best in the league. This group continues to shine week in & week out at a time when they need to be nearly perfect, they continue to never disappoint.
Grade : A-
Coaching : The same tired old song from this coaching staff. Playing down to your competition & looking lethargic offensively once again, that’s 3 weeks in a row where an inferior opponent was taken lightly & allowed to hang around for way too long before this team woke up. Lack of preparation, no sense of urgency, getting away from what this team does best & not making adjustments in game. OC Greg Roman’s play calling was very predictable & vanilla once again regardless of who was playing QB until the last drive where Hundley was bailed out by a pass interference call on the 16-play drive in the final 5:02 but the plays did come in faster & the there were no delay of games. Roman is really starting to feel the heat & rightfully so as this offense has hit a wall while he gets mentioned for the HC job @ Stanford. HC John Harbaugh’s message has started to wear thin & it looks like he has shed some of the analytical things he was doing in the last year or so but this team looks unprepared the last few weeks & his body language says the game may have passed him by. DC Mike MacDonald has this defense playing well as of late minus the slip up in Jacksonville & the pass rush & turnovers have come on a regular basis before this game despite the 4 blown leads, you can see the progress that this group has made since the beginning of the season. Something is broken on this team & it looks more & more like it’s leadership & a culture that has gone stale. There is too much talent on this team for it to continue to underachieve the way it has, that points directly at HC John Harbaugh & his staff not using the talent they have in front of them properly. It may the be the message, it may be the preparation, it may be the lack of leadership, it may be the lack of adjustments being made or it may just be poor coaching all around. Whatever it is, this team lacks that killer instinct that it once had, it lacks the swagger & attitude that used to define it & more importantly, it lacks a true leader who knows how to kick his team into another gear when the going gets tough. That guy used to be John Harbaugh but those days have passed him by, if this was 2011 he would be fine but it’s 2022 & the game has evolved while he hasn’t. Nothing will change w/ this team until the person getting that message across is gone & a new voice is heard in that locker room. John Harbaugh might be a breath of fresh air for another team but for this team, his message has worn thin. His inability to take accountability or hold any of his coaches accountable as well as his head trainer, Steve Saunders accountable will be his downfall, he is loyal to a fault it has hurt this football team. It’s time for a change & we may be counting the games he has left to coach.
Grade : C
Overall Grade : C+