» Grading the Bills
A There wasn’t much flashiness, but Buffalo crammed the ball down Baltimore’s gullet and effectively managed the clock even though C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson missed possessions because of injuries. Buffalo ran 55 times, the 10th heaviest load in Bills history and their most carries since 1996. Jackson ran for 87 yards and a touchdown. Spiller ran for 77 yards.
B- EJ Manuel didn’t have to throw much, but he made an impact. He completed only 10 of his 22 passes for 167 yards and had two interceptions. He connected with Robert Woods on a crucial 42-yard touchdown strike. Another Woods TD catch was overturned on an iffy review. Tight end Lee Smith fell down in what should have been a late TD toss. Stevie Johnson had one catch for minus-1 yard on six targets. Spiller and Jackson had zero targets combined.
A-Baltimore abandoned the run in the second half, passing on 31 straight downs. Its 24 rushing yards were fifth-fewest by a Buffalo opponent. Rice averaged 3.4 yards, and Bernard Pierce averaged 1.8 yards. Buffalo didn’t allow a rushing first down, but Baltimore didn’t exactly try.
A-The Bills collected five interceptions, with cornerback Aaron Williams and rookie middle linebacker Kiko Alonso snagging two apiece. Safety Jim Leonhard had the other. The Bills notched 13 pass breakups, four sacks and 12 quarterback hits. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco did, however, undress Williams on a 74-yard bomb in the fourth quarter, one of seven pass plays of at least 20 yards.
B-The Bills will have a difficult decision to make when rookie kicker Dustin Hopkins’ groin gets better. Dan Carpenter has been building trust. He has made 10 straight field goals, including three Sunday. Kickoffs might be an issue, though. Carpenter had three touchbacks on six attempts. Punter Shawn Powell had a shaky day. He netted 36.9 yards and shanked a 29-yarder in the fourth quarter.
A-The Bills’ coaching staff cooked up a winning strategy Sunday despite key injuries. On offense, the Bills muted their hurry-up offense and made it work. With cornerback Leodis McKelvin unable to play, fans braced themselves for the tandem of Williams and Justin Rogers. The defense came up with several game-changing plays. But the Bills committed 11 penalties for 99 yards and had a few significant plays erased.
» Grading the Ravens
F Baltimore ran nine times. Not in the first quarter. Not in a half. The whole game. That’s tied for second-fewest by an opponent in Bills history and the fewest since 1966, a year before hand-held calculators were invented. But you wouldn’t have needed one to add up these stats. Baltimore ran twice after halftime.
C- Flacco threw the most interceptions of his career, but he did complete some deeeeeeep passes and deserves credit for keeping Baltimore in a game that was otherwise lopsided. Baltimore had pass plays of 37, 26, 74, 45 and 21 yards in the second half. Five targets had at least four catches, with Torrey Smith grabbing five passes for 166 yards and a touchdown.
D+ The Ravens entered Sunday with the NFL’s fourth-ranked run defense and were allowing opponents to average 3.4 yards a carry. The Bills ran for 203 yards and 10 first downs. The Ravens did register four tackles for losses on run plays, with cornerback Corey Graham (Turner-Carroll) chalking up three of them.
B-On Manuel’s 24 dropbacks, the Ravens sacked him twice and hit him five times. They had two interceptions and three pass breakups. Graham had a fourth-quarter interception that could have helped the Ravens pull out a victory. The Ravens also eliminated Stevie Johnson from the game. But Woods stung them, beating Graham on the 42-yard TD.
B+ Sam Koch netted 42.4 yards on seven pretty punts. Kicker Justin Tucker made field goals from 35 and 24 yards and tallied touchbacks on all five kickoffs. Bills punt returner Jim Leonhard had some slithery moments and averaged 8.5 yards on four attempts. Ravens kick returner Deonte Thompson had a 34-yarder. Punt returner Tandon Doss had a long of 17 yards.
D The Ravens committed penalties on the first two plays of the game and never seemed to get their stuff together. Head coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell might as well have given Rice, Pierce and fullback Vonta Leach the afternoon off because the Ravens failed to complement Flacco in any meaningful way. Defensive coordinator Dean Pees couldn’t find a way to make Manuel beat them.