|OLB Paul Kruger sacked Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers on Sunday to lead a resurgent Ravens’ defense. (US Presswire)|
The Ravens’ offense was stagnant and stale for three-and-a-half quarters, mustering only a third-quarter field goal against the Chargers on Sunday.
But trailing 13-3 with 7:51 remaining in the game, the Ravens’ offense finally began clicking, and after looking at the game a second time, it’s something they can build on.
Fortunately, the defense played as close to a complete game as it has all season, stifling the Chargers throughout.
Here’s how the Ravens fared upon further review:
What looked good?
- Ravens OLB Paul Kruger won most of his one-on-one battles against Jeromey Clary on Sunday. Kruger used a variety of power moves, pushing Clary back to get pressure on QB Philip Rivers. Kruger had a sack and several quarterback hits. Kruger has four sacks in the past three games, becoming a force on Baltimore’s resurgent defense.
- ILB Dannell Ellerbe continued to play well rushing the passer and in coverage. Before injuring his foot and ankle, Ellerbe had a sack on a nicely timed blitz on San Diego’s second offensive possession. Ellerbe also limited TE Antonio Gates to one catch during his time in the game.
- When Baltimore was forced to open the offense after trailing 13-3 in the fourth quarter, QB Joe Flacco’s passes began looking crisper and more accurate. He threw a beautiful 24-yard touch pass to Jacoby Jones with 6:46 left. Flacco also began hitting WR Torrey Smith with some nice passes, including one with Chargers LB Melvin Ingram in coverage right next to him. Flacco’s touchdown pass to TE Dennis Pitta was a perfect throw, getting the ball to his reliable target right over LB Andrew Gachcar. In the final half of the fourth quarter and overtime, Flacco only had one dangerous pass, which was nearly picked by S Eric Weddle. It makes one wonder if the coaching staff will begin opening the offense back up when it goes on the road.
What didn’t look good?
- After a couple of solid outings, RT Kelechi Osemele had a performance to forget, allowing two sacks against the Chargers. Osemele got beat by Antwan Barnes early in the game on a speed move, almost catching the rookie tackle dead in his tracks. Shaun Phillips also beat Osemele for a sack. Osemele’s foot speed could improve against these speed rushers he’s had trouble with, but experience is the biggest thing he needs right now, which he’s getting plenty of as a starter.
- On fourth-and-inches with under a minute remaining in the third quarter, Baltimore elected to go for it and was stopped for a 2-yard loss. There were plenty of problems with the play, which Flacco called based on what he thought would work. Baltimore’s offensive formation was an offset-I, with OT Bryant McKinnie and TE Billy Bajema on the left side of the line next to LT Michael Oher. FB Vonta Leach was also lined up left of center. San Diego’s alignment showed six defenders in the box to Baltimore’s right side. On Baltimore’s left, counting the nose tackle, there were four defenders, meaning a run left would have given Leach, Oher, McKinnie, Bajema and C Matt Birk a chance to win one-on-one blocks and spring RB Bernard Pierce for a first down. Instead, Flacco called a run right, which shifted Leach to the right side. Counting Birk, the Ravens’ line was matched with four linemen vs. six defenders. With LG Jah Reid pulling on the play, it opened up a backside lane for DT Corey Liuget to run through and make the tackle. Flacco’s decision turned out to be a mistake and one he will learn from.
- Pierce had some tough runs against a strong Chargers front seven and finished with nine carries for 34 yards. There were also some questions as to why he was in the game in certain situations, most notably the aforementioned fourth-and-inches play, instead of Ray Rice. Pierce had a solid outing though, which brings up the possibility of him earning more carries in the coming weeks.