Posted: Sunday January 9, 2011 5:29PM ; Updated: Sunday January 9, 2011 9:30PM
John P. Lopez
John P. Lopez>INSIDE THE NFL

AFC Playoffs Report Card: Ravens-Chiefs

Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
Matt Cassel, Ray Lewis
In addition to completing just nine of 18 passes for 70 yards, Matt Cassel threw three interceptions and was sacked three times.
AP
Ravens Chiefs

7

Grading out the performances from the Ravens' 30-7 victory over the Chiefs in the AFC wild-card playoffs ...

Kansas City Chiefs

Quarterback: Matt Cassel had one of the most pitiful postseason performances in history. He struggled in nearly every way. The numbers alone tell the story -- 9-of-18 for 70 yards, with no touchdowns and three interceptions. But beyond that, Cassel and the game plan got away from exploiting the underneath routes that worked early. Cassel also never allowed his best receiver, Dwayne Bowe, to try to go up and make a play. It's one thing to finish with zero catches. It's quite another to never even throw to the guy. Cassel also apparently fumbled, but it was overturned by the tuck rule. By the fourth-quarter, Cassel was forcing everything and doing nothing. Grade: F

Running Backs: Jamaal Charles was brilliant early, breaking free on an electric 41-yard touchdown that should have set the course for this game. One problem: Charles was banged up late in the half but remained in the game. So why did he have just nine carries? Only one carry in the second half? Thomas Jones never got going between the tackles and Dexter McCluster had a key fumble that the Ravens' Chris Carr recovered. Grade: C-minus

Receivers: Tony Moeaki had a big reception to keep one early drive alive and was open on other occasions. Cassel couldn't get him the ball. Why the Chiefs never even attempted to throw the ball in Dwayne Bowe's direction is beyond comprehension. Dexter McCluster led all receivers with a whopping four catches, for just 17 yards. Grade: D

Offensive Line: The most perplexing thing about Cassel's horrible day and Charles being a non-factor in the second half was that the Chiefs' offensive line really wasn't bad. Two of the three sacks allowed were coverage sacks, while mammoth DTs Haloti Ngata and Kelly Gregg each were held without a tackle. The only big-time breakdowns came late in the third quarter and into the fourth, when the Chiefs were trying to play catchup. Grade: C

Defensive Line: Defensive end Tamba Hali was all over Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, especially in the first half. The Chiefs also stuffed the run nearly throughout, giving up the backbreaker only after being on the field for nearly 38 minutes of game clock. Still, when you give up an average of five yards per snap, that points to falling short at the point of attack. Grade: C-minus

Linebackers: A promising start wound up being a miserable finish. Jovan Belcher and Derrick Johnson came up big early when the Ravens were moving the ball, but not putting up points. It all began to crumble when Ravens coach John Harbaugh began attacking the outside edges with short tosses to Ray Rice and out patterns to Anquan Boldin. With safeties way back in a two-deep, Flacco consistently found space over the outstretched hands of linebackers, and in front of safeties. Grade: C

Defensive Backs: Chiefs safety Jon McGraw lived every defensive back's worst nightmare Sunday. He was owned, in every way, by Ravens tight end Todd Heap. And all the Ravens did was exploit McGraw's lack of speed and coverage skills against Heap every chance they got. It overshadowed Eric Berry's fine game and Brandon Flowers' decent moments. Flowers couldn't stay with Boldin on a key late third-quarter touchdown, too. Grade: D

Special Teams: There was nothing horrendous, neither was there anything special. The operative word in special teams is "special." The Chiefs needed a pick-me-up, a momentum-swinger and never got it from the special teams. Demorrio Williams also jumped offside to extend the Ravens' clinching touchdown. Grade: C-minus

Coaching: Are there any Kansas City fans feeling heartbroken over offensive coordinator Charlie Weis moving on to Florida? Didn't think so. And memo to defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel: It's third down. It's just a hunch, but you may want to keep an eye on Todd Heap. Wow. Weis never answered and Crennel's defense too often looked unprepared, overwhelmed and incapable against the Ravens' Heap. Sure, Todd Haley ultimately is responsible, but his coordinators let down the entire organization. Grade: D-minus

Baltimore Ravens

Quarterback: Joe Flacco did what winning quarterbacks do. He never blinked. After a sharp start that wasn't rewarded with touchdowns, Flacco came up clutch and executed every part of the Ravens' offense nicely. Most important, he responded to his own error, after fumbling when Tamba Hali stripped him, and led the Ravens to a huge second half. Flacco worked the play action nicely, including on Anquan Boldin's key late third-quarter touchdown. Grade: B-plus

Running Backs: Ray Rice proved to be more effective out of the backfield, especially in the first half. Still, the Ravens' never abandoned the run and Rice never stopped churning, finishing with a tough 57 yards, but more importantly wearing down the Chiefs defense. Flacco was the leading rusher most of three quarters, but Willis McGahee ultimately broke through K.C's tired D with the icing touchdown. Grade: C

Receivers: From the first snap, tight end Todd Heap dominated the game, finishing with 10 catches for 108 yards. The Chiefs never had an answer and hardheadedly never brought up their safeties or offered the overwhelmed Jon McGraw help. Anquan Boldin consistently managed safeties, too, and had key blocks downfield on several plays. Grade: A

Offensive Line: They gave up far too much pressure early and left Flacco scrambling. Too many early drives that ended with three or no points could have cost the Ravens. Still, this proved to be a romp and the front five, with lots of edge help from Todd Heap, got the job done. The more than 10-minute drive to end the game showed just how much this group took out of the Chiefs defense over the course of the game. Grade: B-minus

Defensive Line: The Ravens were beat at the point of attack early and allowed Jamaal Charles to run free. But they bore down and did their jobs stuffing running lanes and penetrating for big stops on several key short-yardage plays. Terrance Cody forced a Jamaal Charles fumble that Brandon McKinley covered. Kelly Gregg came up huge on a fourth-and-goal stop, Terrell Suggs broke free in the fourth quarter. Grade: B

Linebackers: Ray Lewis, frankly, was not having a very good game. He and Jameel McClain were out of position on Charles' big early touchdown run. Lewis also found himself out of position in pass coverage. Still, it's Ray Lewis. He got going, the entire linebacking corps got going and Lewis punctuated the day by forcing a key fumble. Grade: C

Defensive Backs: It was more than just a lot of bad Matt Cassel that snuffed the Chiefs passing attack. It was Ed Reed, Chris Carr, Josh Wilson, Dawan Landry -- everybody in the secondary. They closed fast, stayed tight in coverage, especially on Dwayne Bowe, and came up with big plays. Altogether, the secondary accounted for a pair of fumble recoveries and three interceptions. Grade: A-plus

Special Teams: Billy Cundiff was automatic, the punting game efficient and against a team that desperately needed to make a big play to change momentum and get the crowd back into the game, tackling was sure. Grade: C-plus

Coaching: Ever wonder why coaching staffs stay up all hours of the night watching film, meeting, looking for the slightest edge that could make a difference? You found the answer with the way the Ravens completely exploited the Chiefs secondary with tight end Todd Heap. Harbaugh and the offensive staff did a nice job mixing up hurry-up offense with a deliberate approach, using short passes to Ray Rice. Defensively, the secondary was remarkable and the Ravens didn't go blitz crazy, but dialed them up at the perfect time. The fourth-quarter drive that ate up more than 10 minutes of clock and ended with Willis McGahee's 25-yard touchdown run was a thing of beauty. Grade: A

 
SI.com
Hot Topics: NBA Draft Yasiel Puig NHL Playoffs NBA Playoffs Mark Cuban Jabari Parker
TM & © 2014 Time Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you. Read our privacy guidelines, your California privacy rights, and ad choices.
SI CoverRead All ArticlesBuy Cover Reprint