In Response to Ravens @ Patriots REPORT CARD
[QUOTE] SUPER BOWL, BABY!!!! In the end, the Ravens made one mistake too many, costing them the game. This was not your typical Patriots win, where Tom Brady and the offense shines. This was a gritty, determined, 2001 style win. It wasn't pretty. But, it was enough to send the Patriots to Indianapolis. Here are my grades: I. OFFENSE: Some questionable play calling, an uncharacteristically poor Brady performance, and poor red zone offense nearly cost the Patriots this one. 1.) QB: I'm going to be kind. This definitely was not one of Tom Brady's memorable performances. Despite, for the most part, being given ample time to throw, and getting good field position throughout the game to operate, his accuracy was at times Curtis Painter-like. He missed a wide open Rob Gronkowski with 6:06 left in the second quarter, which cost the Pats 4 points, as the Pats had to settle for a FG, rather than a TD. Brady also missed an open Aaron Hernandez of a couple of more throws, and threw two poorly thrown, bad decision interceptions. The deep one into the end zone with 7:22 left in the 4th quarter, right after the Spikes pick, was a terrible call...and a terrible throw into double coverage. For the game, Tom completed 22 of 36 passes for 239 yards, no TDs, and the aforementioned two picks. He finished with a horrid 57.5 QB rating. In Brady's defense, he did lead the Patriots on an 11 play, 64 yard drive, to put his team ahead to stay, early in the fourth quarter...and scored the winning TD himself on a QB sneak. But, Tom couldn't close the show in the final two minutes, by picking up a clock killing first down. Let's face it. Brady was awful today. He said it best, "I sucked": GRADE: D; 2.) RBs: BJGE had his best game in weeks...and, the way Brady threw the ball, it's a good thing he did. Bennie rushed for 68 yards in 15 carries, and a TD. Danny Woodhead had just 18 yards on 6 carries, as he wasn't much of a factor. Thank goodness that the Pats rarely used Aaron Hernandez as a RB today: GRADE: C+; 3.) OL: Rookie RT Nate Solder got beat for two sacks. The one he gave up to DE Paul Kruger on the Pats' initial drive, cost his team a TD. But, that aside, the Big Uglies played plenty tough. They saw to it that "Sizzle" (Terrell Suggs) fizzled. They kept the huge Haloti Ngata out of the backfield, and even did a reasonable job of opening up some running room for BJGE. For a change, their trigger man betrayed them. Great trap block by Logan Mankins paved the way for Bennie's second quarter, 7 yard TD run: GRADE: B+; 4.) TEs: Solid, if unspectacular performance by the Dynamic Duo. Gronk and Hernandez combined for 12 catches for 153 yards. Their stats would have been considerably better, had their QB been more accurate. There was also a left sideline pass that Gronk hauled in, which was ruled out of bounds. However, replay appeared to show that Gronk had hauled it in, in bounds. But, BB didn't challenge it. If only the Pats had some sort of a deep threat to help out their incredible TEs. How would Ravens' rookie Torrie Smith, the 58th player taken in the 2011 draft (RB Shane Vereen yaken at #56), look in a Patriots' uniform? GRADE: B+ 5.) WRs: This group was of little consequence. Wes Welker had just six (6) receptions for 53 yards...while Deion Branch and Julian Edelman combined for just three (3) catches, for a paltry 26 yards: GRADE: D. II. DEFENSE: Who would have thought that the unit that had been the ugly step-sister of this team throughout the year would bail out Brady and his boys? 1.) DL: Vince Wilfolk was immense. The big guy played his finest game as a Patriot, as he continually collapsed the pass pocket on Joe Flacco. No telling what greater stats Flacco would have posted, if not for Vince. Wilfolk finished with six (6) tackles, including three (3) solos, a sack, with three (3) of his tackles for resulting in a loss of yardage. He, and his comrades up front, held Ravens' star RB Ray Rice to just 67 yards on 21 carries (3.2 yards per carry). Hats off to Vince, Gerard Warren, Mark Anderson, Kyle Love, and Brandon Deaderick for containing, if not shutting down, the Baltimore running game today. The only negatives were that they did a poor job of containing Flacco in the pocket. When he was able to get outside the pocket, he had a couple of big pass plays...one of which was the 42 yarder to Torrie Smith, which set up the Buzzards' first TD. They also allowed him to scramble for 27 yards, on four (4) carries: GRADE: A-; 2.) LBs: The boys up front made it easy on the LBs to make plays, particularly against the running game. ILB Brandon Spikes had a big game, leading the team with nine (9) tackles (two solos), and made a dynamite interception of a Flacco pass over the middle. It snuffed out a promising 4th quarter Ravens' drive. Jerod Mayo chipped in with eight (8) tackles, two of which were solos. Rob Ninkovich did his part for this active LB corp with seven (7) tackles (one solo). In coverage, although the Ravens' TEs combined for seven (7) catches for 74 yards, Ray Rice was held to just one catch, for 11 yards: GRADE: B+; 3.) SECONDARY: By and large, the tackling was awful. Kyle Arrington's whiff on Anquan Boldin resulted in a 37 yard play, and lead to the second Buzzard TD. Boldin finished with six (6) catches for 101 yards, most of those yards coming on YAC (yards after catch). The backline boys were extremely lucky on a couple of occasions, when Torrie Smith had them badly beaten deep. Fortunately for them, pressure from the DL forced Joe Flacco to hurry his throws. That said, Smith still did his damage, mostly on YAC plays. He finished with 82 yards on just three(3) receptions...an average of over 27 yards per catch. One of his plays, a 29 yard TD reception, was another YAC disaster for the Pats, as Sterling Moore whiffed on a tackle on Smith in the right flat. Unfortunately, this group was back to it's old tricks, as they made Joe Flacco look like Joe Montana. Flacco completed 22 of 36 passes for 306 yards, two (2) TDs, and had a QB rating of 95.4. That said, the aforementioned Moore saved the day by knocking what would have been the game winning TD pass out of the hands of Ravens' veteran WR, Lee Evans...and breaking up another pass play to TE Dennis Pitta, on the very next play: GRADE: C-; III. SPECIAL TEAMS: Kudos to Stephen Gostkowski for his 3 for 3 FG performance, and his deep kick-offs. Good job of covering kicks...particularly in the 4th quarter, when Sergio Brown was Johnny on the spot to make a stop, after a rare Zoltan Mesko line-drive kick. Folks, other than a "pick-6", there's no greater sin than fumbling on a punt or kickoff return. The Texans lost their game last week against the Ravens, due to a muffed punt. Danny Woodhead committed such as sin...immediately after the Buzzards had forged ahead, 17-16, late in the 3rd quarter. His fumble gave the Ravens the ball at the NE 28. Fortunately for Danny and his team, the defense bailed him out, and held the Buzzards to just a FG. This terrible mistake aside, Danny did a reasonably good job returning kick-offs. With mistakes like these, the Pats were fortunate indeed to still come out on top: GRADE: C-; IV. COACHING: Great job on shutting down Ray Rice. But, the escapability of Joe Flacco in the pocket, and the YAC by Ravens' WRs Boldin and Smith nearly did the Patriots in. As mentioned above, the staff missed an opportunity late in the second quarter to challenge an incomplete call on a Brady sideline pass to Gronk. Had the play been challenged, the Pats might have scored a TD on that drive, rather than a FG. Can somebody please tell me what the Pats were thinking when, during the Pats' initial drive in the second half, facing a 3rd and 2 on the Ravens' six, they called a run up the middle with BJGE? Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Wes Welker anybody? Much too conservative a call. Instead on going up, 16-10, the Pats had an opportunity to really put pressure on the Ravens' offense, had they jumped out to a 20-10 lead. Can somebody please tell me why the Pats decided to heave it deep to a double covered Matthew Slater (yes-Matthew Slater!!!)?? This "brilliant" call was made immediately after Brandon Spikes had just snuffed out a Ravens' drive with an interception. The Pats had a first and ten at midfield, leading 23-20, and just 7:22 to play. Why throw deep, to of all people...Slater? For the second time in a row, the "we'll outsmart them" call backfired. With guys like Gronk, Hernandez, Branch, and Welker at your disposal, why call a play like that for Slater?? Finally, after the "D" holds the Ravens on downs, the Pats get the ball back with just 2:46 remaining, leading, 23-20, at their own 33 yard line. On the first play, Brady completes to Welker for seven (7) yards. It's now 2nd and 3, at the NE 40. Instead on employing a play-action pass to pick up the nails in the coffin first down, or run off tackle, where the Pats had had some success earlier in the game, they call a run wide play with the not so nimble BJGE. The result was predictable...a one yard loss. Next, on 3rd and 4, the Pats appeared to dust off a play similar to the one that failed so miserably in Indy in 2009, on the famous BB 4th and two call. But, instead of going to Kevin Faulk, they run a similar type pattern with Hernandez. Of course, the play fails, Hernandez is well covered...Brady throws the ball to his wrong shoulder...and, even if he had caught the ball, like Faulk before him in 2009, Hernandez would have been a foot short of the first down. Why not go with the old bread and butter, and throw it to Gronk or Welker over the middle? The failure to pick up this first down nearly cost the Pats this game. Though I'm glad that the Pats' one, they nearly gave this one away. At the end, they appeared to be playing not to lose, rather than playing aggressively to win. I'd much prefer to have seen the later. Folks, the Ravens played well, and are a good team. But, the Pats could have, and should have won this game rather easily. They wasted a ton of opportunities on offense, especially in the red zone. They must play far better than this if they wish to have a prayer of beating the white-hot Giants in the SB. Speaking of the G-men, brace yourself for the endless replays and rehashes of SB 42. GRADE: C+; V. PLAY OF THE GAME: The Sterling Moore break-up of what should have been a game deciding TD pass from Flacco to Lee Evans; VI. PLAYER OF THE GAME: Vince Wilfolk. Here are the game stats: http://scores.espn.go.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=320122017
. As always, your comments and opinions are welcome.
Posted by TexasPat[/QUOTE]
Texas pat, you cranked your game up for the playoffs...well done, spot on!