ReFo: Ravens @ Saints, Week 12
The Ravens ensured the NFC South remained an open contest with the win over the Saints and Ben Stockwell checks in with his take on the final game of Week ...
ReFo: Ravens @ Saints, Week 12
When the New Orleans Saints entered this three game home stand off the back of a rare road victory in Carolina they were supposed to be seizing control of the NFC South, extracting themselves from the mire. Three defeats later the Saints are in the thick of a race for a division title that nobody seems to want to win.
The Saints were sliced and diced on the ground by Justin Forsett as the Ravens moved back into to a tie for both second and last place in the AFC North in a heated division race that is competitive in an entirely more normal way. The offensive line put in the hard graft for Forsett while the defense slowed Drew Brees just enough to see the Ravens make a happy return to the site of their most recent Super Bowl triumph.
Baltimore Ravens – Performances of Note
Justin Forsett, RB, +4.3
Breakdown: The Saints’ defensive front ensured that his running lanes weren’t always immediately clear but Forsett showed the patience to exploit the blocking and break through the big creases that frequently developed through the New Orleans front. Of his 182 yards 82 (just shy of four yards per carry) came before first contact, still adding more than half his yards after first contact including five missed tackles.
Signature Play: Symptomatic of many of his long gains Forsett’s touchdown to seal the game at Q4 2:59 showed the patience and burst that keyed many of his long gains. Waiting for the pile off left tackle to clear, breaking through as Eugene Monroe sealed Curtis Lofton setting up his untouched 20 yard score.
Pernell McPhee, OLB, +3.5
Breakdown: A crucial cog in the Ravens’ pass rush McPhee quietly piles up the pressure while the likes of Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil received the plaudits ahead of him. Last night was the eighth time in 11 games McPhee has earned a pass rush grade above +1.0 featuring a season high seven pressures (3 Ht, 4 Hu).
Signature Stat: Only three 3-4 outside linebackers (Brandon Graham, James Harrison, and Justin Houston) have a higher Pass Rushing Productivity evaluation than McPhee this season (14.3) who is tied for the position lead with 14 hits.
Torrey Smith, WR, +3.6
Breakdown: Life can be quiet for the No. 2 wide receiver in a Gary Kubiak offense but Smith has been both efficient and productive either side of the Ravens’ by week. Targeted six times last night Smith snagged four passes and shone after the catch collecting 11 yards per reception after the catch and evading a pair of tackles, only a touchdown eluded him in his best display of the season thus far.
Signature Stat: Smith has caught 76.9% of his targets in his last two games (10 of 13); prior to that he was catching less than 50% (22 of 46, 47.8%).
New Orleans Saints – Performances of Note
Kenny Stills, WR, +1.2
Breakdown: Brandin Cooks’ season ending injury has opened the door for Stills to have a bigger role in the offense and he made the most of a season high nine targets last night snagging eight receptions and evading one tackle en route to a productive night. With the Ravens weak at the corners Stills took advantage with six of his catches and 85 of his yards coming against Danny Gorrer and Anthony Levine.
Signature Stat: Caught more passes behind the line of scrimmage last night (three) than he has in the rest of the season combined (two); a sign that he may take on Brandin Cooks’ role in the Saints’ screen plays for the rest of the season.
Terron Armstead, LT, -3.7
Breakdown: Armstead has been solid since his debut in Carolina late last season but this game was his worst in pass protection since that rocky debut in Week 16 last season. Terrell Suggs’ 100th career sack was one of seven pressures surrendered by last year’s third round pick, a career high.
Signature Play: Surrendered an eighth pressure that was nullified by a penalty at 1:27 in the fourth, beaten quickly outside by Suggs who hit Drew Brees as he threw to force an incompletion.
Patrick Robinson, CB, -2.2
Breakdown: Though only targeted five times Robinson surrendered four catches and missed a tackle on Torrey Smith on two of those plays. The first came on an out route allowing Smith to add yards to a third down conversion early in the fourth quarter before he let Smith get away from him over the middle of the field on the Ravens final drive converting long yardage into a manageable third-and-two.
Signature Stat: This was only the third time that Robinson has surrendered completions on more than 50% of his targets in a game this season.
PFF Game Ball
Justin Forsett gutted the Saints’ run defense taking full advantage of the platform his offensive line gave him and the space the Saints afforded him when he got through the first wave.
Follow Ben on Twitter: @PFF_Ben
Ben Stockwell | Director of Analysis
Ben joined Pro Football Focus in 2007, and has since been in charge of the company’s analysis process. He also contributes to PFF’s weekly NFL podcast.