BAL-DEN Grades: Defense dominates the day
Here are the top takeaways from Sunday’s BAL-DEN game, including the highest-graded players for each team:
– I have never seen an offensive line annihilated in a must-pass situation as badly as the Ravens’ was at the end of the game. I’m not sure there was a play where Joe Flacco could have taken more than three seconds to throw and not gotten sacked. The injury to left tackle Eugene Monroe was huge as right tackle Ricky Wagner and replacement left tackle James Hurst both finished with grades below -10.
– Speaking of Flacco, the Super Bowl-winning quarterback did all he could, but no QB in the league could have thrived under what he was given Sunday. He was pressured on 22 of his 34 dropbacks, even though his average time to throw was just 2.49 seconds. You’d be hard-pressed to see a quarterback pressured more than he was Sunday, and his -1.7 grade reflects that. While he didn’t play well, it wasn’t entirely his fault on offense.
– It’s amazing how big a difference a few starters in the secondary makes. The last time we saw the Ravens, cornerback Rashaan Melvin was giving up over 200 yards on his own to the Patriots in the Divisional Round. With cornerback Jimmy Smith back healthy, they didn’t even allow 200 yards to Peyton Manning in the entire game. Smith allowed 7 of 11 targets for 60 yards, and had a pick-six early in the second half.
CB Jimmy Smith (+3.4)
DE Carl Davis (+3.2)
S Will Hill (+3.1)
ILB C.J. Mosley (+2.9)
RG Marshal Yanda (+2.4)
– Not the start Broncos fans were longing for from Peyton Manning. Many hoped the late-season quad injury would explain away the poor play from him last season, but Sunday looked like more of the same. He was accurate on just 68.6 percent of his passes and finished with a -3.1 overall grade. He was also uncharacteristically confused by multiple coverages and blitzes and allowed 13 pressures to convert into four sacks.
– The story of the game was the Broncos pass rush, and no man got after it quite like DeMarcus Ware. The veteran outside linebacker beat newly-inserted left tackle James Hurst like a drum. He had a sack, three hits and seven pressures en route to a +10.9 overall grade.
– Kicker Brandon McManus deserves immense credit for this Broncos win. His 56- and 57-yard field goals proved to be the difference and his +3.1 grade was easily the highest of any kicker this week.
OLB DeMarcus Ware (+10.9)
OLB Von Miller (+6.5)
ILB Brandon Marshall (+5.4)
OLB Shaquil Barrett (+3.6)
S Darian Stewart (+3.4)