By Samuel Njoku

The Baltimore Ravens were a game away from returning to the AFC Championship game, but fell short against the New England Patriots. It was an instant classic that saw great plays out of the Ravens quarterback and a poor showing from their defense.

Offense Grade: A-

The Ravens offense played a phenomenal game against the Patriots on Saturday. The offense practically carried the team throughout the entire game. Justin Forsett continued to gain huge chunks of yards when his number was called. With the makeshift offensive line, his production was especially impressive. Offensive Coordinator Gary Kubiak had a well thought out plan to attack the Patriots defense and it worked to near perfection.

Steve Smith did his best against Darrelle Revis, a matchup that was talked about the week leading up to the contest. Smith Sr. took it upon himself to take his game up a notch against the top-flight cornerback. Torrey Smith had a decent game as well but could have done a better job fighting for the interception that cost Baltimore the game.

Defense Grade: D

During the early portions of the game, the Ravens defense did a great job getting pressure on Tom Brady.  But Bill Belichick quickly adjusted to the Ravens scheme and the Ravens failed to adapt. Elvis Dumervil was nullified completely by the Patriots front and Terrell Suggs simply could not do it on his own. The Ravens front did a great job of stopping the run, but New England abandoned it completely for the pass in the second half.

Baltimore’s porous secondary finally caught up to them in this game. Dean Pees’ plan to stop Rob Gronkowski was either awful or poorly executed by his players. Many will point to the trick play New England ran in the second half, but Baltimore ultimately lost this game because of their inability to cover New England’s All-Pro tight end.

Quarterback Grade: A

Joe Flacco’s streak of playoff games without throwing an interception ended on Saturday. The Ravens QB threw two interceptions against an opportunistic Patriots defense.  Besides those turnovers, Flacco had one of the best playoff performances ever. Most of the passes Flacco made were one’s in which most quarterbacks in the NFL wouldn’t dare make. The toss to Steve Smith between zone coverage was a beauty to watch. His touchdown strike to Owen Daniels that was delivered into triple coverage was as gutsy as it gets.

Baltimore has a quarterback that can lead them to a championship. It would be great to see Flacco perform at this level for a full 16 game season. Doing so may get Baltimore the home-field advantage it so desperately needs in the AFC.

Special Teams Grade: B

The Ravens needed Jacoby Jones to break a long one to turn the tide in the football game but couldn’t garner one. But Baltimore’s special teams defense kept New England unit from breaking one themselves. Sam Koch and Justin Tucker performed well as is usually the case with the two players.

For more Ravens news and updates, visit Ravens Central.

Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.

Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.


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