2012 NFL Grades, Week 14: Should we be scared of the Ravens?
Each week we hand out team-by-team grades for every game in the NFL. This page will update throughout the week, so mark it here.
Each week we hand out team-by-team grades for every game in the NFL. This page will update throughout the week, so mark it here. You'll probably agree with every single grade, but if not, leave your thoughts in the comments below or harass me on Twitter @willbrinson.
It's weird to question a nine-win team, especially with three weeks left in the season. But the Ravens merit some concern, considering they just lost their easiest game left on the schedule, falling to Washington despite holding a 21-14 lead at halftime.
Ray Rice ran the ball "just" 20 times and the Ravens couldn't stop Robert Griffin III, until the rookie Redskins quarterback left with an injury. Baltimore promptly coughed up a touchdown to another rookie, Kirk Cousins, and then lost in overtime.
With the Broncos, Giants and Bengals left on their schedule, the playoffs aren't a guarantee for the Ravens. They can't stop the run, they can't stop the pass and when Joe Flacco isn't playing at home (or, apparently, within 50 miles of his home) he's not guaranteed to be good.
This is also the first time since Flacco took over under center for the Ravens that they've lost back-to-back games; Flacco was 15-0 coming into this game following a loss for the Ravens.
That's a stunning number. But with the seal broken for Flacco, it's worth wondering whether or not a defense-less Baltimore team can hold off other squads surging towards the playoffs.
|Broncos 26, Raiders 13|
|A||Peyton Manning threw an interception early but settled down, and running back Knowshon Moreno played like -- wait for it -- a first-round pick. (It's a huge development while Willis McGahee recovers from injury.) The defense forced two turnovers and didn't allow Oakland's offense to ever get in a rhythm.|
|C-||The defense played well considering it was on the field for close to 40 minutes. The offense sputtered (take your pick: costly turnovers, blown blocking assignments, losing one-on-one matchups) and at some point the organization is going to have to make a decision on its long-term plans at quarterback.|
|Panthers 30, Falcons 20|
|D-||Atlanta tried to make this a contest, but ultimately it'll be remembered as a game people point to if the Falcons can't make hay in the playoffs. The birds were miserable in the first half and the defense was shredded by Cam Newton the entire day.|
|B+||Carolina put on a dominant performance and looked like the team everyone expected to see this year. Newton is quietly coming on strong and DeAngelo Williams topped 100 total yards for the first time in what feels like forever. Too little, too late, but still strong.|
|Redskins 31, Ravens 28|
|C+||It was a very close road loss for Baltimore, but if you're a Ravens fan, you've got to be terrified of their defense, which is suddenly looking quite porous. They couldn't stop Robert Griffin III or Alfred Morris, and no one thinks the offense is going to click consistently. The schedule down the stretch is very, very scary.|
|B||Not a perfect game from Washington by any stretch, but having Kirk Cousins step in and be clutch as hell after Griffin's leg was whipped by Haloti Ngata was pretty huge. Washington's defense (you really can't stop Anquan Boldin) continues to have problems, but it created enough turnovers to squeak something out on Sunday.|
|Vikings 21, Bears 14|
|C-||The Bears defense was absolutely mauled by Adrian Peterson, early and often. Jay Cutler attempted 44 passes and, um, why? Chicago stormed back to make this a closer game than it should've been, but its offensive line and defense without Brian Urlacher's got to be a major, major concern going forward.|
|B+||Even if it makes Christian Ponder look ineffective, there's no excuse for not feeding Adrian Peterson. AD had 104 rushing yards ... in the first quarter. He "only" finished with 154 yards on the game, but the Vikings got the win. They stayed alive in a deep NFC wild-card race by beating one of the teams leading the race.|
|Chargers 34, Steelers 24|
|B+||Classic Chargers win: meaningless road victory that featured fake punts, aggressive Norv Turner playcalls and no Philip Rivers interceptions. OK then. Danario Alexander continues to be a revelation for this team and the defense has tons of young talent. It's just going to get coached up by the next guy unfortunately.|
|F||The Steelers were dominated for most of this game, and the majority of Ben Roethlisberger's stats were posted in garbage time. San Diego was the walking dead and Pittsburgh did its best to try and move out of playoff contention with this inexplicable home loss.|
|Cowboys 20, Bengals 19|
|B||How did we get here? The Bengals looked locked until the Cowboys decided to hold Cincy to field goals and let Tony Romo do what Tony Romo do, which is quietly comeback from deficits. What a stunning win from a team dealing with tragedy this weekend.|
|C-||Cincinnati was up 19-10 with just a quarter to go and somehow gave up the lead. It was a surprising turn of events from a team that's been playing extremely well over the last few weeks. The receivers dropped balls, Andy Dalton made some curious decisions and the defense caved to Dallas late. Crippling loss in terms of their playoff hopes and the wild-card race.|
|Colts 27, Titans 23|
|C-||Lot of things to like for Tennessee here, including Jake Locker making some good plays (but also making some bad ones) and Kenny Britt posting some digits. But how does Chris Johnson rush for 44 yards on 19 carries against a horrible Colts defense?|
|C+||The Colts are like zombies and they just cannot be undone. Sure Andrew Luck is throwing horrible pick-sixes, but don't worry, because Jake Locker can throw them too. Indianapolis keeps managing to find ways to win games it shouldn't and Sunday was another case of the Colts fighting till the end and coming away with a W.|
|Jets 17, Jaguars 10|
|B||I hope you're prepared for a world where this Jets team backdoors the playoffs. Because it's happening. No, seriously. Mark Sanchez was basically worthless, but Bilal Powell and Shonn Greene ran OK against the Jags and the Jets won an(other) ugly one on the road.|
|D+||Woof, Chad Henne -- 21 of 43 for 185 yards and two picks? That ain't gonna cut it. Montell Owens had a nice day and Jason Babin had a strip-sack of Mark Sanchez, but overall this was a pretty bad day for the Jaguars, injuries aside.|
|Rams 15, Bills 12|
|C-||What, um, a win? St. Louis was completely ineffective on offense for the entire first half against a bad Bills defense. Then it scored twice in the second half and eeked out a win. So, yeah, congrats. Or something -- not exactly Sam Bradford's finest moment, but he won.|
|D||Not breaking news, but the Bills apparently forgot they employ C.J. Spiller again. He only saw one touch total in their final 13 plays, after they went up 12-7. Unsurprisingly, the Bills lost this game! Things that are correlated are fun!|
|Browns 30, Chiefs 7|
|F||Colt McCoy came in and did mop-up duty against the Chiefs because they were losing by so many points to the Browns. Do you know how embarrassing that is? DO YOU? Great game from Jamaal Charles, who hit 165 rushing yards, but other than that, this was a total and utter disaster for Kansas City.|
|A||KC's only points came on its opening play, when Jamaal Charles went 80 yards for a touchdown. After that, the Browns absolutely snuffed out the Chiefs on all fronts. They weren't perfect by any stretch, and Brandon Weeden/Trent Richardson/Josh Gordon could've ended up with better numbers, but by goodness, this team is actually pretty good! No, seriously.|
|Eagles 23, Buccaneers 21|
|C+||How did this even happen? The Eagles won for the first time since before the Phillies' last victory in the most improbable of ways, storming back late to win on a walk-off touchdown pass from Nick Foles to Jeremy Maclin. Bryce Brown couldn't get going, the defense wasn't that great for a large portion of the game and Jason Avant was really the only bright spot until the last-second touchdown.|
|C||This makes no sense, because Josh Freeman was impressive, Doug Martin rumbled and the Buccaneers looked like they were cruising. Suddenly the passing defense -- which stinks -- caved to Foles and Tampa Bay lost a game, likely ending its playoff hopes.|
|Seahawks 58, Cardinals 0|
|F||It doesn't get much more crippling than this in terms of a loss in the NFL. I mean, FIFTY EIGHT TO ZERO. It's just the fifth 50-plus point shoutout in NFL history and it could've been worse, except the Seahawks put in Matt Flynn and Robert Turbin. The Cardinals quarterback position continues to be a total disaster.|
|A||Mercy. Pete Carroll kind of poured it on, huh? Maybe he was just making a mix tape for Matt Flynn? Whatever, it resulted in a total beatdown, as Richard Sherman dominated, Marshawn Lynch AND Robert Turbin destroyed the Arizona rush defense, and Russell Wilson AND Matt Flynn lit up the secondary. Domination.|
|49ers 27, Dolphins 13|
|C||Strong West Coast effort for the Dolphins in this one, particularly against a tough 49ers defense. Ryan Tannehill didn't make any critical mistakes and the defense limited the 49ers to just six points in the first half. At one point it really looked like Miami was going to pull this game out. They still just need more weapons on offense.|
|B-||Not the easiest win and the defense should be cause for concern to a degree, but Colin Kaepernick and Frank Gore played OK against a motivated Dolphins defense. Kaep's stats are a little padded because of his late touchdown run, but whatever, it sealed the game. Aldon Smith continues to destroy everything in his path.|
|Giants 52, Saints 27|
|F||This was a dead season at this point for New Orleans anyway, but the Saints could have kept a little life in them. Instead, they were crushed by the Giants as the defense gave up 50-plus points, the special teams gave up 400-plus yards and Drew Brees made myriad mistakes.|
|B+||Did we count them out or something? I guess so after Monday's loss to the Redskins. David Wilson emerged as a viable threat in both the running and returning game and Eli Manning/Victor Cruz lit up a bad Saints secondary en route to a beatdown.|
|Packers 27, Lions 20|
|C-||Classic 2012 Lions game: they badly outplayed the Packers in the first half, but a fat-man defensive touchdown resulted in just a 14-10 lead. They might've snapped Aaron Rodgers home-touchdown streak at 35, but they also let him run in for a 27-yard score and couldn't slow the Packers on the ground at all.|
|C+||An ugly win, based primarily on how slowly they started, but the Packers will take it, especially considering their ability to establish the running game. Conditions made things tough, but Randall Cobb stepped up, Alex Green ran well and Aaron Rodgers made plays when he had to in order to pick up a win.|
|Patriots 42, Texans 14|
|F||Matt Schaub was inaccurate, Arian Foster couldn't get rolling against the Patriots run defense, the Texans pass defense got shredded, and Houston looked foolish for wearing letterman jackets on the road. Just a brutal beatdown that should raise some serious red flags as to Houston's postseason viability, even at 11-2.|
|A||Tom Brady stated his case for MVP on Monday, tossing for four touchdowns and 297 yards, a game that would've been even bigger had the Pats not been sitting on a lead. Shane Vereen and Steven Ridley ran the ball well against Houston and the defense stepped up in a big way. Pretty outstanding game from the Patriots.|
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