Baltimore Ravens Baltimore Ravens 16-13 Chicago Bears Mike Preston’s report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 16-13 win over Bears | COMMENTARY With injury woes and critical deficiencies that must be fixed, Baltimore makes it into the playoffs with a victory over the Bears Mike Preston: Grade 6 ‘Nobody is going to put a saddle on this team for another couple of months. This is one of the most interesting sets of games I’ve seen in a long time.’ Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo
Baltimore Ravens (6-2) vs Los Angeles Chargers (7-1)
Jarrett Bell, USA Today
Well, we finally saw something worth feeling good about. The Ravens had a minus-7 turnover differential going into the Chicago game, but Brian Hoyer kept them in the game with only one turnover while the defense bottled up Jay Cutler and the Bears offense enough to earn a 16-13 victory. Not the team we saw in the first half against Washington, but sure is nice to see a football game in November.
Cornerback Jimmy Smith was the best, if not the only, Ravens defender, which is notable since this was the first game that the majority of the defense played in. Lardarius Webb should be starting at corner opposite Jimmy Smith instead of Brandon Carr, but the Ravens have to allow Bill Belichick to have his off-season meetings on Monday mornings. The post-game decision to pull Johnny Manziel in favor of Hoyer was as blindsighted and reckless as anything he has done throughout his career. It’s easy to see what the coaching staff is thinking at this point. McCarthy was in control of the ball in the second half and would have been tough to drive a war tank down the field.
It would also be best for the Ravens to avoid extra-tight fourth-quarter possessions. It’s more entertaining if they just make something happen first. No reason to try to blow this game open when you’re down 13-3. They needed to stop Cutler in the red zone and avoid the “trust me” play over the middle of the field, which has been their doing.
Ray Rice would have done it differently. A smart trade-off for a career that is now dead in the water. Not so smart to make a game-deciding decision against a non-playoff team with Josh Bush in the game. Harbaugh in charge: now much better, but still stupid.
Mike Preston, the Guardian
The happiest man in a darkened city, happy that he’s finally going to the playoffs and happy that he got a chance to watch the other team with a chance to take the division. Happy he’s finally got a quarterback who knows when to hand the ball off and when to throw. Hoyer, who took a few unfortunate hits, has played great since he came in and the fourth-quarter heroics were fueled by Tate, who is probably the Ravens’ best special teams player since Matt Stover. The guy who’s been nothing but a disappointment in the NFL since he won the Super Bowl, Anquan Boldin, remains a disappointment despite his 89-yard touchdown catch. The hurt kid, rookie Marlon Humphrey, intercepted a Sam Darnold pass and returned it for a touchdown.
That’s the bright spot. It’s clear where coach John Harbaugh and his staff have things to work on. The defense is bad. The offense isn’t good. They need the right mix. This game should have been a game-changer, yet it didn’t end up that way. Instead, the Ravens, who went into the game with such clear advantages in talent and size, have a big step to make to be a serious playoff team.