The Ravens disguised a lot of coverages against Gronkowski, but the Patriots are going to need to find a way to get him the ball more than three targets. He didn’t pass-block very much at all. The incompletion to Julian Edelman in the end zone is a tough play. You’d like the pass a little better, but even so, Edelman should catch it the first time, take the hit and hold on.
The reverse to Edelman that lost 13 yards was just a bad play; it wasn’t poorly executed. The play is dependent on the outside linebacker crashing the run. A direct snap to the running back isn’t going to get him to do that.
On the drive before halftime, Brady threw a perfect pass down the sideline to Lloyd, but the receiver had hesitated in his route. Brady was not happy.
Offensive line (2.5 out 5)
About average in the pass game again with two sacks, six hurries, and four knockdowns. The stuffed runs (eight this time) continue to be a problem. The Patriots aren’t getting much push. Nate Solder allowed a sack and 1.5 hurries. Logan Mankins (2.5 stuffs) and Dan Connolly (knockdown, 1.5 stuffs) were average. Center Ryan Wendell had his first rough outing with a sack, two hurries, knockdown, and a stuff. Right tackle Sebastian Vollmer (hurry, half-knockdown) was very good but he’s still not moving very well.
Defensive line (2 out of 5)
Thank goodness for Chandler Jones (four hurries) and Kyle Love — who combined for all six hurries — or else the Patriots might never have gotten off the field. On the first play of the game, the Ravens tried to send a message to Jones by bringing fullback Vonta Leach at him on a wham play. Jones sidestepped it and helped on the tackle. Most veterans don’t have that kind of awareness. Jones also made that late fourth-down stop when he stood up left tackle Michael Oher.
I’m sure Osemele had someone take a picture of his pancake block on Vince Wilfork on an 8-yard Rice run early in the second quarter. That never happens. Wilfork, who destroyed the Ravens in the AFC Championship game, was double-teamed most of the game. Love and Wilfork both had multiple gap problems.
Linebackers (1.5 out of 5)
The pass interference penalty on Mayo against Rice on third down was rough. My problem wasn’t so much the call — there weren’t any good replays — it was that the flag was thrown by line judge Esteban Garza, who was behind Mayo all the way on the other side of the field. Ridiculous.
Brandon Spikes completely knocked left guard Ramon Harewood to the ground and then took on Leach on one tackle. And then Yanda a few plays later. That’s about all Spikes contributed as his peaks-and-valleys career continues.
Mayo made a rare big gaffe on the Ravens’ first play of the second half, when he ducked his head into the wrong hole, which allowed Rice to run for 15 yards. Not a good job by the run defense on Rice’s 7-yard touchdown. Love was shoved out of his gap by Harewood, and Spikes went into the wrong gap, plus Hightower failed to get over the top of a block. That resulted in an untouched touchdown. Should never happen.
Secondary (2 out of 5)
It’s a shame that Devin McCourty dropped an interception and had the late penalty (the other one was ticky-tack), because this was his best game in some time with four pass breakups, a pass defensed, and another good pass coverage. Great play by McCourty to knock away the pass to Smith on third and 15 late in the third quarter.
On the Ravens’ third-and-13 conversion that went to replay, McCourty has to find a way to stop Anquan Boldin shy of the marker. On the first touchdown to Torrey Smith, Kyle Arrington didn’t lay a hand on Smith. There’s no way he could run with him. The Pitta catch-and-run touchdown is on Gregory. Yes, McCourty was there as well, but McCourty is expecting Gregory to at least force Pitta to him. McCourty wasn’t expecting Gregory to tackle the ground.
On the 38-yarder to Smith in the third quarter, Patrick Chung failed to get back to his proper Cover-2 position in time after cheating up. Four missed tackles in this group. Not good.
Special teams (4 out of 5)
Punter Zoltan Mesko got back on track with a 4.66-second average hang time, but you’d like to see him do much better on his final punt than a 30-yarder to the 21-yard line. The Patriots needed him to pin the Ravens, with only one timeout left. Arrington had a missed tackle on the 38-yard kickoff return.