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Monday, November 4, 2013
Ravens report card at the Browns

By Jamison Hensley

Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 24-18 loss at the Cleveland Browns:

Quarterback: Joe Flacco was off target for most of the game at a time when the Ravens can't afford for him to be off his game. In two touchdown drives, he was 7-of-8 for 98 yards. On the 10 other drives, he barely completed half of his throws (17-of-33) for 152 yards. His worst throw of the season, a sadly underthrown pass deep downfield, resulted in his ninth interception of the season. Flacco did his best to keep plays alive with his feet. Overall, Flacco was too rusty coming off the bye. Grade: C-minus.

Running backs: Ray Rice proclaimed he was at full strength and yet he struggled like all of the other games this season. He totaled 17 yards rushing on 11 carries. That's a 1.5-yard average. That's also 8 yards fewer than Flacco had running the ball. After gaining 10 yards on his first two carries, Rice managed 7 yards on his last nine attempts. He's also becoming a liability in pass protection. Backup Bernard Pierce didn't fare much better with 11 yards on six carries (1.8-yard average). Fullback Vonta Leach has become an afterthought in the Ravens' new three-wide attack. Grade: F.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Undrafted rookie Marlon Brown is starting to make everyone forget about Anquan Boldin with his play in the red zone. He caught two touchdowns and scored on a two-point conversion. Including Brown, the Ravens' wide receivers combined for a season-best 19 receptions for 212 yards. Torrey Smith got behind the defense for a 46-yard reception, which would've been a 65-yard touchdown if Flacco had hit him in stride. Tight end Dallas Clark continued his up-and-down season with one catch for 14 yards. Ed Dickson had one catch and one drop, which sums up his shaky season. Grade: B.

Offensive line: There were very few holes opened in the running game and too many problems in pass protection. This goes for Sunday or any of the other eight games in 2013. Right tackle Michael Oher got beat for a sack, and Oher and right guard Marshal Yanda let a cornerback run between them on a delayed blitz. A.Q. Shipley struggled in run blocking and was called for a false start. Center Gino Gradkowski was flagged for holding two plays after the Ravens forced a fumble, a penalty that stalled the drive. Grade: D.

Defensive line: The Ravens' front shut down the Browns' ground attack. Cleveland running backs combined for 42 yards on 23 carries, a 1.8-yard average. Pernell McPhee forced former Ravens running back Willis McGahee to fumble. Art Jones had a quarterback hit, and Terrence Cody had a tackle for a loss. Chris Canty delivered the hardest hit on quarterback Jason Campbell early in the game. The one criticism is the lineman allowed Campbell to escape the pocket too many times. Grade: B.

Linebackers: Middle linebacker Daryl Smith was all over the field again with a team-leading nine tackles, two quarterback hits, one tackle for a loss and one pass broken up. Terrell Suggs recorded his ninth sack of the season on the first play from scrimmage and added seven tackles. Jameel McClain made an impact in run defense. But where was Elvis Dumervil? He didn't have a tackle, sack or quarterback hit. Grade: C.

Secondary: It was one of Lardarius Webb's worst games with the Ravens. He got faked out so bad on Davone Bess' 20-yard touchdown that it wouldn't surprise me if he was listed on the injury report this week with sore ankles. The communication breakdowns seemed to happen at the worst time. No one was covering blocking tight end Gary Barnidge on a 4-yard touchdown. Rookie safety Matt Elam looked confused at times. The strange part is this group held the Browns' top playmakers, wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron, in check. It was Greg Little who caused the most problems. Grade: D.

Special teams: Tandon Doss made the mistake of the game when he let punt slip through his arms and then failed to recover it when the ball was just below him. He should have been charged with two fumbles on that play. That turnover inside the Ravens' 15-yard line was converted into a touchdown. Doss had returns of 36 and 27 yards but those didn't redeem him. Sam Koch shanked another punt. This time it was a 25-yarder in the fourth quarter when he should have pinned the Browns deep in their territory. The coverage teams were solid, and Justin Tucker hit a 51-yard field goal. Grade: D.