ReFo: Raiders @ Ravens, Week 10
A potent downfield passing performance by Joe Flacco could revive the debate whether the Ravens quarterback is elite.
ReFo: Raiders @ Ravens, Week 10
There’s not much more than could have gone wrong for the Oakland Raiders on Sunday. Beaten early and easily by a Baltimore Ravens team eager to prove that they are as good as their record suggests, not even a good day by quarterback Carson Palmer could negate an awful day in coverage by the defense.
The win guarantees the Ravens head to Pittsburgh next Sunday night still in sole possession of first place in the AFC North. More importantly, it was the dominating performance they had been searching for all season despite missing another two starters because of injury.
Despite the one-sided score, both teams had players that produced and those who disappointed.
Oakland – Three Performances of Note
The good news for Philip Wheeler is that he’ll have to go some distance to play as poorly as that again. The bad news is that he really was that bad. Looking utterly lost in coverage at times, he allowed a reception on all eight of the passes thrown into his coverage for 88 yards, with 50 of those yards coming after the catch. Adding to the misery were the two penalties he committed. His day could have been even worse had safety Tyvon Branch not saved his blushes. Facing 3rd-and-9 with 4:19 left in the first quarter, the Ravens went after Wheeler on a go route with tight end Ed Dickson. After allowing the big play downfield, Wheeler then switched off, leaving the tight end untouched after he had gone down under his own momentum. Getting back to his feet, Dickson was able to pick up a few extra yards but could have scored had it not been for the tackle by Branch.
While it was a bad day all round for the Raiders, left tackle Jared Veldheer can take pride in his own individual performance. Veldheer was all but faultless and did what was asked of him in the running game. As a pass blocker, however, he was as dominant as you can be. Shutting out a Ravens’ pass rush that was patchy throughout, Veldheer finished with a perfect Pass Blocking Efficiency Rating of 100.0. The line as a whole performed well with only the usual suspect play of right tackle Willie Smith and three penalties from right guard Mike Brisiel bringing the unit down.
Moore Making Plays
Given the Ravens’ struggles on defense and the nature of the Raiders’ vertical offense, plays downfield were to be expected. Denarius Moore was the receiver who stepped up to make the biggest of those plays with a 30-yard touchdown reception on 1st-and-10 with 10:37 left in the third quarter. Blowing by cornerback Corey Graham on a go route from the slot, Moore was in position to haul in a perfect throw by Carson Palmer at the goal line. Finishing the day with an average of 2.65 yards per route run from the slot, he impressed even further with some nice open field blocks on screen plays.
Baltimore – Three Performances of Note
Get yourself ready for a week of questions about whether or not Joe Flacco is elite. While he may not be an elite quarterback in our eyes given his body of work this season, he sure looked like one on Sunday as he picked apart the Raiders downfield. Attempting eight passes of 20 or more yards, Flacco completed five for 180 yards and two touchdowns. With five big completions there are plenty of highlights to choose from but the 47-yard touchdown to Torrey Smith on 1st-and-10 with 13:49 left in the third quarter basically put the game away. With Smith open downfield because of a breakdown in the Raiders coverage, he was able to thread the ball to him at the goal line before safety Tyvon Branch could get over to help out.
Williams Ups his Game
Much maligned for a season in which he has had his struggles, despite pulling in four interceptions, cornerback Cary Williams had one of the best games of his career in coverage. Targeted as many times as any Ravens defensive back with seven passes thrown into his coverage, Williams allowed just three receptions for 27 yards while adding a pass breakup. Allowing an average of just 0.85 yards per snap in coverage, he very nearly added to his interception tally on 1st-and-10 with 9:16 remaining in the third quarter. Taking advantage of a slight under thrown pass by Palmer on a post route to Darrius Heyward-Bey, Williams’ play on the ball guaranteed that it fell incomplete.
Whether or not his poor play was caused by injuries, Ed Reed was not up to the standard he needs to be. Though none of the primary coverage for any of the Raiders touchdowns can be attributed to Reed, he was still the guilty party on the 55-yard Heyward-Bey touchdown on 1st-and-10 with 1:46 left in the first half. Coming up to attempt what amounted to little more than an arm tackle after Chykie Brown had slipped, Reed simply slipped off of the receiver before he darted for the end zone. Guilty of another missed tackle and partly to blame for the long touchdown to Moore, Reed came out of the game early in the third quarter. Had he not, this could have looked even worse than it already does.
– Flacco and Palmer combined for seven completed passes of 20 yards or more – not a good day for downfield coverage
– The Ravens moved rookie Courtney Upshaw all around on defense but he struggled to have any impact on the Raiders running game when they lined him up at defensive tackle.
– A good day for the Ravens’ special teams with an easy kickoff returned for a touchdown, a fumble recovery on their first punt of the day and Sam Koch’s brilliantly executed touchdown run on the fake field goal.
PFF Game Ball
When he plays like he did on Sunday, Joe Flacco makes you believe he can lead the Ravens to the Super Bowl. As always, the big question is how he follows it up. That shouldn’t take away from his performance this week, however, which was easily his best of the season.
Follow Gordon on Twitter: @PFF_Gordon
Gordon McGuinness | Analyst, Lead Special Teams Analyst
Gordon has worked at PFF since 2011, and now heads up the company’s special teams analysis processes. His work in-season focuses on college football, while he is also heavily involved in PFF’s NFL draft coverage.