Here are the grades after reviewing the film from the Falcons’ 26-16 loss to the Ravens on Sunday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
Two things stuck out: the Falcons helped the Ravens immensely with penalties and the poor play of the offensive line.
Penalties helped the Ravens on four straight possessions. They used the penalties to build a 16-10 lead. The line couldn’t pick up a fourth-and-1 and eventually collapsed and gave a sack and strip for a touchdown.
Sack attack breakdown
SACK 1: Left guard Wes Schweitzer got driven back into the pocket by Za’Darius Smith. Matt Ryan was flushed out to his right. Terrell Suggs disengaged from right tackle Ryan Schraeder and tracked down Ryan for the sack.
SACK 2: The Ravens put seven players on the line of scrimmage and dropped two into coverage. The Falcons didn’t slide their protection correctly and Smith came free between Alex Mack and Zane Beadles to pick up the easiest sack of his career.
SACK 3: The Ravens brought the house. Linebacker Patrick Onwuasor leaped over Ito Smith’s weak cut block attempt and had a free run to Ryan, who had center Mack and Ravens nose tackle Brandon Williams tangled up down by his feet. Onwuasor knocked the ball off Ryan and safety Tavon Young scooped it up and scored. (The Falcons need to bring in part-owner Warrick Dunn to hold a pass protection/cut blocking clinic for the running backs.)
On to the grades:
Run offense: Tevin Coleman, who’s been declining interviews, had six rushes for eight yards. Smith, who has spoken but declined an interview request on Monday, rushed seven times for 22 yards and was key in the sack-and-strip touchdown. Maybe Coleman and Smith don’t want to address the shoddy blocking they have received. That would be very un-Brotherhoodly. Falcons running backs have a long history of standing up and addressing the fans during the good, bad and ugly times. Michael Turner, Jason Snelling, Ovie Mughelli, Warrick Dunn and Fred McCrary were always there for the fans, even when things got a little bumpy. On the fourth-and-1 run by Smith, Schweitzer, Mack and Beadles all got pushed into the backfield. Grade: F
Pass offense: Ryan had to throw a lot of hot routes because the Ravens were coming on blitzes. With the blitz and the threat of the blitz, the Ravens held the Falcons to 2 of 9 on third downs (22 percent). Ryan was sacked three times and hit seven times on 29 drop backs. So, he was affected on 10 of 29 drop backs for a 34 percent rate, just two percent better than the Saints game. The offensive line’s collapse has led to the offense being derailed over the past four games. The bright spot has been the play of tight end Austin Hooper. He caught all five of his targets for 44 yards and a touchdown. Beadles made his first start at right guard and that was an upgrade over Ben Garland, who didn’t play an offensive snap of the 53. Grade: D-minus
Run defense: Even with the return of linebacker Deion Jones, the Falcons got steamrolled in the run game. The Ravens ran 49 times for 207 yards for a respectable 4.2 yards per carry. Free safety Damontae Kazee told Jones how happy he was that he was back. Jones finished with 15 tackles and stopped several runs from getting back to Kazee, who had four touchdown saving tackles against the Saints. The Ravens ran out the clock in the second half by basically running dive plays up the middle against the Falcons. Grade: D.
Pass defense: The secondary held up well against rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson. He threw a number of crossing routes off roll outs. He completed 15 of 25 for 125 yards. Robert Griffin III came in and completed 2 of 4 for 21 yards. Jones and Grady Jarrett had sacks. Jarrett’s sack led to Vic Beasley’s electric 74-yard touchdown run. Bruce Irvin had the only quarterback hit. Grade: B
Special teams: The unit played the fake-punt pass well. Ravens punter Sam Koch just was on the money with a tight spiral. Matt Bosher averaged 45.6 net yards on five punts and placed three inside the 20. He had one touchback. Matt Bryant made a 44-yard field goal. Justin Hardy busted loose for an 18-yard punt return, his longest of the season. The Ravens kicked it out of the end zone to take kickoff returner Marvin Hall out of the game. Grade B
Coaching: The Falcons opened with a good script on offense, but stalled just outside the red zone and had to settle for a field goal. Ryan, knowing the key was to attack the Ravens on first down, overthrew Coleman on first-and-10 from the 27. Smith was pounded on second down and Ryan’s pass for wide receiver Calvin Ridley was behind him on third down. The penalties by the defense were costly and should not be tolerated this late in the season. Jones’ face mask grab was egregious and kept the unit on the field. Robert Alford and Sharrod Neasman had pass interference penalties that kept drives alive that resulted in field goals. But no professional team should have a 12-men on the field penalty in the 12th game of the season. The offense couldn’t block and the defense couldn’t stop the Ravens when they knew all they could do was run the football. The Falcons should have over-loaded the box and dared Jackson to throw. Grade D-plus.