BAL-NE grades: Brady's short passing game seals Patriots win
New England Patriots 30, Baltimore Ravens 23
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from New England’s 30-23 victory over Baltimore.
Quarterback grade: Tom Brady, 81.9
Short passes lead to gains after the catch
Tom Brady led the Patriots’ offense with multiple missing weapons and showed why he is one of the best-ever quarterbacks to play the game. While the Patriots didn’t score as many points as his performance would make you think, his play was on the money. As per usual Brady was able to take control of the game through short and intermediate passes. Brady was able to lead his receivers to yards after the catch by consistently putting the ball in front of the receiver where they did not have to adjust for the ball. When Brady did struggle it came when he was pressured, part of this is from the poor interception he threw when he threw the ball to Eric Weddle. However for the rest of the game Brady was pressured on 38.5 percent of his passes and he had a QB rating of 107.1. He was able to produce some big plays while being pressured, as he was too strong for the Ravens defense.
Top offensive players
FB James Develin, 91.7
TE Martellus Bennett, 85.8
C David Andrews, 81.8
WR Chris Hogan, 78.4
WR Malcolm Mitchell, 72.6
Martellus Bennett shines on Monday night
When Rob Gronkowski went down for the season everyone knew it would fall on the shoulders of Martellus Bennett to perform at the level he did earlier in the season. And while he was a better run blocker this week, it was his performance as a receiver that showed his value. His best play came on his touchdown play where he was able to take the ball over Zachary Orr head and use his strength to keep the ball away from Orr. For the game Bennett caught every pass that was targeted his way and showed that teams still have to worry about the Patriots’ No. 1 tight end, even if he isn’t at the same level as Gronkowski.
Top defensive players
CB Malcolm Butler, 82.3
DI Malcom Brown, 76.2
ED Rob Ninkovich, 74.7
S Patrick Chung, 74.0
ED Shea McClellin, 72.9
Malcolm Butler leads the way
Malcolm Butler led the Patriots defense in terms of overall grade on Monday night, and his 88.2 overall grade now ranks fifth among all cornerbacks this season. Against Baltimore, Butler allowed three of four targets to be caught but for just 31 yards total, with 25 of those coming on one play. Butler also had one pass breakup and made a critical stop, tackling Dennis Pitta just short of a first down on what would end up being Baltimore’s final drive. Malcom Brown led the defense with four hurries – a season high for him – and tied with Butler and Rob Ninkovich with a team-high three stops (a stop is a solo tackle which results in a loss for the offense, given the situation).
Quarterback Grade: Joe Flacco, 74.4
Flacco bounces back in second half
The Raven’s quarterback had a brutal first half — he went just one of five for 18 yards and an interception on balls thrown at least 10 yards down field, and just 13 of 21 for 130 yards and an interception when throwing from a clean pocket. Afterward, however, Flacco was able to get into a rhythm to lead the Ravens back into contention (albeit with the benefit of some momentous Patriots’ turnovers on special teams). Flacco completed five of seven passes for 111 yards and a touchdown on throws traveling at least 10 yards in the air in the second half, while also going 20 of 25 for 132 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions on throws from a clean pocket.
Top offensive players
T Ronnie Stanley, 83.6
G Marshal Yanda, 81.7
FB Kyle Juszczyk, 81.6
T Ricky Wagner, 79.8
C Jeremy Zuttah, 76.8
Offensive line excels in pass protection in New England
Joe Flacco was under pressure on four of his first ten drop backs on Monday night and it looked like the Patriots were going to have no issues bullying their way into the Ravens’ backfield. Well, that certainly didn’t end up being the case as Flacco finished the night facing pressure on just eight of his 55 drop backs, which translates to a 14.5 percent rate, the lowest among all QBs in Week 14. All five members of Baltimore’s offensive line allowed a pressure but only RG Jeremy Zuttah allowed more then that, as he gave up two hurries.
Top defensive players
S Eric Weddle, 80.8
DI Brandon Williams, 79.8
CB Shareece Wright, 76.2
CB Tavon Young, 76.0
DI Timmy Jernigan, 75.9
Eric Weddle continues high level of play
The Baltimore defense had one standout performance on defense in Eric Weddle, who once again showed his value to this defense. He had an interception and was active in all phases with a sack and a stop in the run game. What he was unable to do was make up for the performance by some of the other defenders for the Ravens. The Patriots picked on linebacker Zachary Orr to the tune of 70 yards with every pass completed where he was in coverage by six different players, as he was unable to prevent the Patriots’ offense completing the ball in the middle of the field.