Grading the Bills
RUNNING GAME: F
Get used to that grade. You’re going to be seeing it a lot here. LeSean McCoy carried seven times for 22 yards. He was outgained on the ground by Josh Allen. Marcus Murphy might be making a run at the No. 2 job – he led the team with six carries for 31 yards, while Chris Ivory rushed just three times for 3 yards. Allen showed off some good mobility to gain 26 yards on four attempts, some of which were designed runs and some of which were scrambles. It was obviously not close to enough, though.
PASSING GAME: F
If I could invent a grade worst than F, I would. Nathan Peterman was nothing short of a disaster for the second time in three career starts. I have no idea how Sean McDermott could even consider putting Peterman back under center short of an injury to Allen. As of right now, he is not a viable option to be a starting quarterback in the NFL. To be fair, Peterman got little help. His pass protection was terrible. Supposed No. 1 receiver Kelvin Benjamin dropped a would-be touchdown catch. Charles Clay was nowhere to be found. Just brutal all the way around.
RUN DEFENSE: F
Truthfully, the Bills probably “only” deserve a D here, but there’s no way we’re ruining the straight Fs. The rush defense did allow three touchdowns, too, so it’s not like it was good by any stretch. Matt Milano played with a physical edge, finishing with eight tackles, including two for losses. Rookie Harrison Phillips had four tackles, two of which also went for losses. Tremaine Edmunds did a little bit of everything with seven tackles, one sack, two passes defensed and a forced fumble.
PASS DEFENSE: F
What is going on with the secondary? That’s one of the major questions coming out of Sunday. There were Ravens receivers running wide open throughout the defensive backfield. The decision to start Phillip Gaines over Vontae Davis backfired early – when Gaines gave up a 29-yard catch that converted second-and-26 for Baltimore. The Bills had five passes defensed, and only one of them came from a member of the secondary (Gaines).
SPECIAL TEAMS: F
New punter Corey Bojorquez got off to a good start. He punted five times for an average of 50.8 yards in the first half, showing off a big leg. On one of those punts, the Bills gave up a 51-yard punt return after Bojorquez got off a rushed kick that didn’t have enough hang time to let his coverage get downfield. Stephen Hauschka might have had a 52-yard field goal blocked. Deon Lacey jumped offside on a fourth-and-5 with the Ravens ready to punt, giving Baltimore a first down. Woof.
McDermott and his staff should be embarrassed. His team was outclassed in every possible way. McDermott has a mess on his hands at quarterback, and his defense – which is supposed to be the team’s strength – is out of sorts, too. The penalty problem from the preseason carried over to Sunday. Players openly admitted to coming out flat. That falls on the coach.
Grading the Ravens
RUNNING GAME: B
It wasn’t dynamic, but it didn’t have to be. Starter Alex Collins was bottled up most of the game, finishing with 13 yards and one touchdown on seven carries. Kenneth Dixon provided a spark with 13 carries for 44 yards and a score, while backup quarterback Lamar Jackson carried seven times for 39 yards. It looks like the Ravens will try to have a package of plays each week for Jackson, the quarterback taken with the final pick of the first round in April’s draft.
PASSING GAME: A
Joe Flacco was “elite” Sunday. He went 25 of 34 for 236 yards and three touchdowns in just 35 minutes of work. Perhaps Flacco has felt the heat from Jackson and responded. Newcomers Willie Snead, Michael Crabtree and John Brown all caught touchdown passes. You can’t draw it up any better than that. The passing attack will look even better when tight end Hayden Hurst, the team's first-round draft pick, returns from injury.
RUN DEFENSE: A
The Ravens held the Bills to 20 yards on seven carries, when it was still a semblance of a game. Buffalo’s final number looked a little better – 22 carries for 83 yards – looked a little better, but a lot of that yardage came in garbage time. The Ravens recorded 10 tackles for loss. It was a balanced effort, too, as linebackers C.J. Mosley and Za’Darius Smith shared the team lead with five tackles each.
PASS DEFENSE: A+
The Ravens certainly didn’t miss suspended cornerback Jimmy Smith in Week 1. Cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey and Brandon Carr combined for seven passes defensed. Safety Tony Jefferson had an interception, as did Carr. The pass rush racked up six sacks, with cornerback Tavon Young leading the way with two of them. The longest completion allowed was 24 yards to tight end Logan Thomas, and that also came in garbage time.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A-
The miserable conditions had little impact on kicker Justin Tucker and punter Sam Koch. Tucker was perfect on his two field goals and Koch 51.4 yards on five punts, placing three of them inside the Bills’ 20-yard line. Punt returner Janarion Grant got the Ravens into scoring position with a 51-yard return in the first half. One weak spot was the kick coverage, as the Bills had 165 yards on their five return attempts, an average of 33 yards per attempt.
If John Harbaugh is on the hot seat entering 2018, he made a strong first impression. The Ravens were ready to go from the opening whistle. Baltimore is 8-3 in season openers under Harbaugh, including 6-1 at home. Dating back to 2006, Baltimore is 19-2 at home in September. New defensive coordinator Wink Martindale threw a steady barrage of pressure at the Bills. It’s easy for coaches to look good when their team is cruising to such an easy win. Baltimore’s 44-point win was just one point shy of matching the team record for largest margin of victory. It included touchdowns by six different players – a coach’s dream.
Story topics: Bills Report Card/ Charles Clay/ Chris Ivory/ Corey Bojorquez/ Josh Allen/ Kelvin Benjamin/ LeSean McCoy/ Marcus Murphy/ Matt Milano/ Nathan Peterman/ Phillip Gaines/ Sean McDermott/ Stephen Hauschka/ Tremaine Edmunds/ Vontae Davis