STL-BAL Grades: Defenses feast on sloppy play
Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from the Ravens’ 16-13 win over the Rams.
St. Louis Rams
– The Rams defensive line absolutely hammered the Ravens offensive line all game long. They were led by the unblockable DT Aaron Donald (+12.3), who posted his highest grade of the season. He finished with a sack, a hit and five hurries, as well as a +5.5 run defense grade. He was consistently disrupting plays, beating double teams like they were nothing. He wasn’t alone, though, as DE William Hayes (+6.8) also had a season high grade, thanks to his two hits and four hurries rushing the passer, as well as well above-average play against the run. Overall, the Rams defense finished with a sack, five hits and 16 pressures.
– In his first game as starting QB for the Rams, QB Case Keenum (-3.1) struggled in limited attempts. He was average without pressure, completing 58.8% of his passes for 113 yards and a touchdown. But when he saw pressure (10 of 27 dropbacks), Keenum completed just 2 of 9 passes for 23 yards. He especially struggled when looking outside the numbers on the right side of the field, where he attempted just four passes total and missed on all of them (one was dropped). He also had a fumble that cost the Rams the game, though much of the blame for that can be placed on his left tackle.
– The Rams run game struggled mightily against the Ravens defense, as rookie sensation RB Todd Gurley (-2.9) gained a mere 63 yards on 25 carries. Much of his grade came from his two fumbles (one was a missed handoff from Keenum in which Gurley closed his arms too early), but he got no help from his line either. LG Garrett Reynolds (+0.4) was the only offensive lineman or tight end to grade above-average in run blocking. Overall, the offensive line combined for a -13.0 run blocking grade. It is worth noting that RT Andrew Donnal (-0.7) was injured early on, and much of the line was shuffled out of position to compensate, which may explain some of their struggles. Still, this was not a great game for the Rams’ unit.
DT Aaron Donald (+12.3)
DE William Hayes (+6.8)
DT Nick Fairley (+3.9)
CB Janoris Jenkins (+2.5)
DE Matt Longacre (+2.4)
– The Ravens offensive line was completely dominated trying to block this strong Rams’ defensive line all game long. No starter posted a positive grade. In fact their best lineman was, incredibly, LT James Hurst (+1.3) who came on in relief of injured LT Eugene Monroe (-4.2). As a unit, the starting offensive line posted a combined overall grade of -24.6, a terribly low grade. They could not open running lanes or stop the Rams’ pass rush. The Ravens’ coaching staff and QB Joe Flacco (-3.6) seemed to be well aware of this, as Flacco averaged a mere 2.09 seconds from snap to attempt.
– OLB Courtney Upshaw only recorded two stops, and had just one sack and one other QB hurry. But those numbers don’t do him justice for how disruptive he was this game. He was consistently beating blocks and blowing up plays, forcing the Rams’ RBs to change their points of attack. He arguably won them the game, with his strip sack on Keenum putting the Ravens’ in a position to kick a game-winning field goal. His partner on the right side, ILB C.J. Mosley (+1.8) didn’t do much in coverage and had a couple of penalties, but he was a beast against the run, posting a +3.4 grade thanks to a ridiculous seven run stops on 29 rushing plays.
– Flacco dropped back to pass a lot, but he was far from effective in this game. Thanks to a game plan that clearly called for him to get the ball out quickly and avoid the Rams’ pass rush, Flacco attempted just 10 passes more than 10 yards downfield. When he had a clean pocket, he was very average, completing 64% of his passes for 8.2 yards per attempt. But under pressure (44% of his dropbacks), his completion percentage dropped to 57.9% and his YPA to 4.9, as well as his two interceptions. It was a tough end for Flacco, who tore his ACL at the end of this game and will be out for the remainder of the season. His overall grade of -9.6 on the year represents the lowest-graded season of his career.
OLB Courtney Upshaw (+4.7)
NT Brandon J. Williams (+4.1)
FB Kyle Juszczyk (+2.7)
DE Timmy Jernigan (+2.3)
ILB C.J. Mosley (+1.8)