Dom Bonvissuto
Sunday January 10th, 2010

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Grading the performances from the Ravens' 33-14 win over the Patriots on Sunday in the AFC wild-card round ...

Quarterbacks: Reportedly hampered by a hip injury, Joe Flacco didn't have a good game, but the Ravens didn't need him to. The key was he didn't have a terrible game, only throwing one deflected interception, and sometimes that's all you need. Grade: D+

Running Backs: No position group had a better wild-card weekend. Ray Rice was spectacular from the start and finished with 159 yards on 22 carries and two touchdowns. Willis McGahee carried 20 times for 62 yards and a touchdown. Fullback LeRon McClain also scored. All told, the Ravens ran the ball 52 times for 234 yards. Total domination. Grade A+

Receivers: The Ravens wideouts had very limited opportunities, but they made the most of them. Derrick Mason and Mark Clayton came up with a pair of huge third-down grabs on the Ravens' fourth-quarter TD drive. Grade: C+

Offensive Line: They didn't take long to establish their dominance against the Pats front, with guard Marshall Yanda throwing the key block on Rice's 83-yard run on the game's first play. They also gave Flacco time on the few times he dropped back and consistently dominated the line of scrimmage on short-yardage plays. Grade: A+

Defensive Line: Quiet day for Haloti Ngata and company, but their consistency up front allowed the linebackers and defensive backs to make the big plays. Grade: A-

Linebackers: The Ravens linebackers made big play after big play in the first quarter to set the tone. First there was Terrell Suggs' sack, strip and fumble recovery, which led to the Ravens' second touchdown. Then, Ray Lewis bulldozed Laurence Maroney on his way to sacking Tom Brady, leading to a three-and-out. And Jarrett Johnson broke through and forced Brady into his first interception. Grade: A+

Defensive Backs: Interceptions, returns, tackles for loss, bone-jarring hits - the Ravens secondary did it all. Chris Carr's first-quarter interception led to points, as did Ed Reed's on the very next drive. Frank Walker's devastating hit on Ben Watson in the third quarter led to LaRon Landry's pick. As a unit, they never gave up the big play and kept the yards after catch to a bare minimum. Grade: A+

Special Teams: A muffed punt in the second quarter could have been costly, but otherwise Baltimore's punt and kick return teams played well with a 30-plus yard return in both phases. Placekicker Billy Cundiff converted both field goals. Grade: B

Coaching: John Harbaugh's decision not to challenge the muffed punt was an all-time head-scratcher, especially after it led to the Patriots' first touchdown. He redeemed himself with a successful challenge of the spot on a third-down run by Flacco in the fourth quarter. The run-dominated game plan (52 runs to 10 passes) proved to be the winning approach. Grade: B

Quarterbacks: Tom Brady did not look like usual calm, collected self, getting hit hard three times in the disastrous first quarter. He rebounded to lead two scoring drives, but was never able to connect on a big play - his longest throw was 18 yards to Kevin Faulk. His sub-4 yards per attempt is unheard of for the future Hall of Famer. Grade: C-

Running Backs: Faulk oftentimes looked like the only Patriot playing up to potential, but even he succumbed to the Ravens suffocating defense. Maroney was posterized on a first-quarter sack, barely slowing the blitzing Lewis. Grade: D

Receivers: The Pats' game plan was to throw short passes, utilizing Faulk out of the backfield and Julian Edelman on slants and short outs. Credit the Ravens linebackers and secondary for keeping the yards after catch to a minimum. Randy Moss didn't make his first catch until the third quarter and was never a factor. Grade: C-

Offensive Line: An awful start, with veteran left tackle Matt Light getting turnstiled by Suggs on the strip-sack of Brady. The unit improved after the first quarter, but by then the damage was done. You know it's a bad day when the only good mark came when rookie tackle Sebastian Vollmer made a touchdown-saving tackle on Landry's third-quarter interception. Grade: D

Defensive Line: This unit was invisible for most of the game; that's what happens when you only have 10 opportunities to create a pass rush. Still, their inability to stop the run was troubling and something that will no doubt be a focus of the offseason. Grade: D

Linebackers: The consistently short field the Ravens were working with put much of the Pats defense in a no-win situation. Still, the Patriots linebacking corps was a weak spot all season and that continued Sunday. Grade: D

Defensive Backs: Missed tackles were the undoing of this unit, starting with Rice's long run. Both Leigh Bodden and Brandon Meriweather had a shot at tackling Rice, but didn't get the job done. Meriweather later lost his jock strap on a 9-yard run by McGahee. Just a terrible job on a day when the Pats secondary didn't need to worry about defending the pass. Grade: F

Special Teams: Brandon McGowan had a bad day, committing two penalties -- lining up offsides on a punt and grabbing a facemask on kick coverage. Edelman provided a spark with a pinballing punt return in the second quarter, as did Darius Butler with his kickoff return in the third. Alas, Stephen Gostkowski missed a 44-yard field goal to officially end any thoughts of a Patriots comeback. Grade: D+

Coaching: You could these weren't the Patriots of the past when Bill Belichick opted to punt from the Ravens 35 with two minutes left in the second quarter and trailing by 17. They did have some success switching to the no-huddle offense, but never found any momentum. Grade: C-

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