For the second year in a row, the Ravens came out firing like a precision tuned race car in their home opener, dismantling the team that took their playoff spot last season 47-3. The Ravens would’ve had a shutout and possibly even more points, but John Harbaugh decided to focus on resting starters ahead of a short turnaround week, with the next game coming in just 5 days.
So, fresh off a dominant victory where most of the backups got multiple 2nd half snaps, who were the Studs of the Game, and who were the absolute Duds?
- Joe Flacco
This one is pretty obvious. Joe Flacco came out after an offseason of lots of scrutiny about his motivation and quality of play, and turned in an absolute gem of a performance. Joe had just one incompletion on his first drive of the game, and finished with a completion percentage of over 70%. He seems to be learning a bit from his fellow QBs, as Joe made plays by buying time out of the pocket and keeping the play alive to allow his WRs and TEs to get open. He finished with 3 TDs and 0 INTs and spread the ball to 9 different receivers.
- Za’Darius Smith
It is hard to pick one or two defensive stars, as the Ravens Defense turned in a full team effort to blank the Bills in the 1st half, but Za’Darius Smith stands out a bit in the stat sheet from his Front Seven counterparts. Smith finished tied with CJ Mosley for the team lead in tackles with 4 solo, 1 assist. He also added a sack, two Tackles for a Loss, and 1 QB Hit. He also tipped a pass in the 2nd half. While several guys in the front seven contributed to the smothering effort both against the run and flushing the passer, Smith stood out with the most individual stats.
- Brandon Carr
This was another toss up for me in the defensive secondary. Tony Jefferson had a tremendous pick, Tavon Young added 2 sacks and a couple pass breakups, and Marlon Humphrey led the team with 4 Pass Deflections. But Carr earns my final spot with his interception and toe tapping run back that was JUST shy of being a TD return. He also added 3 pass breakups of his own, all of which came against Bills top WR Kelvin Benjamin. While he did have a frustrating DPI, Carr seemed to hold his own going against Benjamin, which will be big for a team that will not have top CB Jimmy Smith for 3 more games.
- Nathan Peterman
This list will usually be limited to just Ravens players…but man oh man, this guy stunk it up today. Peterman started just his 3rd NFL game against the Ravens, and it was clear by the end of the 1st quarter that he was just not able to endure between the rain and the Ravens pressure. Peterman struggled to throw downfield, struggled to hit receivers for 1st downs, and struggled to get his offense going. You can probably blame some of this on the failure of the Bills to get a ground game going, and thus forcing Peterman into several 3rd and long situations, but by the 2nd quarter, Peterman was just being goaded into poor throws and interceptions. The interception to Tony Jefferson was about 10 yards overthrown, and essentially directly to Jefferson’s spot on the field. After his second INT to the Ravens, Sean McDermott finally decided to pull the plug and let Josh Allen make his debut. Peterman might get a chance to start next week, but it’s clear that Allen is the best shot for the Bills to move the ball, rainy day or not.
- Alex Collins
This might be slightly unfair, as Collins exited around the same time that Flacco did, but Collins struggled more than any other RB to move the ball on a day where the weather favored a strong running game. Collins did get the first Ravens TD with an 8 yard run, but finished the day with just 13 yards on 7 carries. He also fumbled the ball on a play where he was trying to cut back a run the Bills had sniffed out, but rookie LB Tremaine Edmunds knocked the ball out of his hands as he tackled Collins. Meanwhile, fellow RBs Buck Allen and Kenneth Dixon finished with YPC between 3 and 4. Again, it’s probable that Collins would’ve gotten better stats as the Bills defense finally gassed out in the 2nd half, but the stat line he finished with was underwhelming for a RB many fans are expecting to finish over 1000 yards for the season.
- Janarion Grant
Again, this one might be a little unfair, as Grant had an explosive 51 yard punt return in the 2nd quarter which generated a major spark in the game. But all his other runbacks were just a handful of yards, with the longest being 3 yards. Also, he muffed a fair catch in the 2nd quarter, nearly giving the Bills superb field position when the game was much closer in hand, but lucking out when the Bills couldn’t recover the loose ball in bounds. For a player who struggled to separate in the return battle against Tim White, Grant will need some stronger play in the games ahead if he wants to continue to hold the returner position for the Ravens. His 51 yard runback was a great moment for a player in his first NFL game, so hopefully we can see more strong returns like that, and less of the other type of runbacks he had.
So there you have it. It’s hard to come up with Duds on the Ravens in a game where they just thrashed their opponent on offense and on defense, but despite the strong performance, the team knows that they played an opponent of lesser quality than some of their upcoming matchups and one game isn’t going to define a whole season, so these players need to find ways to keep improving, even after a 44 point victory surplus.
A 47-3 win is a great way to start off, though!