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Ravens vs. Lions report card - 12/17/13

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The Baltimore Ravens answered Miami's win with one of their own to maintain control of their playoff hopes. The win, combined with Cincinnati's loss, also means that the Ravens control their own desinty with regard to the AFC North division title. If the Ravens win their final two games, they are miraculously the division champs.

Quarterbacks: Joe Flacco continues to make plays down the field despite no help from the running game and shaky protection from his offensive line. He did have trouble keeping the ball down at times, but most of that came late in the game after he was hit in the knee, which certainly affected him physicall and mentally. At the end of the day, he led the Ravens to yet another game-winning drive. Grade: B+

Running backs: Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce ran hard, and the Ravens actually did enough on the ground to maintain some sense of balance against one of the league's top defensive lines. Rice still needs to do a better job picking up the blitz and running forward instead of going north and south. That's not his game, at least not anymore. Grade: C

Wide receivers: Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith had no problems working the middle of the field. Marlon Brown was also a factor, drawing two key penalties down the field. Dennis Pitta had a couple of catches, but the Lions seemed intent on taking him away. This group still needs to do a better job in the red zone. Grade: B-

Offensive line: Against one of the best defensive lines in the league, the Ravens did a pretty good job. They ran with enough success to at least keep the offense somewhat balanced, and the pass protection was solid. The Ravens struggled to protect Flacco more late in the game as they wore down. Grade: C

Defensive line: Haloti Ngata was as active as we have seen him all season. He was disruptive against the run and got pressure on the quarterback. DeAngelo Tyson caught a deflected pass for an interception and is logging valuable snaps. Arthur Jones continues to make plays, and the Ravens got a pass rush from Elvis Dumervil. Terrell Suggs was oddly a non-factor again, and you have to wonder if he is injured. Grade: B

Linebackers: Daryl Smith had another tremendous game and also recorded an interception. He did an excellent job getting the Ravens aligned properly and switching to blitzes when the Lions emptied the backfield. Jameel McClain also made an impact against the run. Grade: B

Secondary: Jimmy Smith has arrived. He is playing some of the best football of any cornerback in the NFL. He held Calvin Johnson under 100 yards receiving, and a lot of that was when the Ravens played zone. Lardarius Webb got away with pass interference in the end zone but continues to be strong in run support. Matt Elam had a rough start but made up for his comments about Johnson in the second half, even hauling in an interception in the final seconds to seal the victory. Grade: A

Special teams: The Ravens are really thriving in this area over the past month. Jacoby Jones had a couple of good returns, including one that set up the game-winning field goal. As for field goals, it doesn't get any better than Justin Tucker. He was six-for-six, including the game-winner from 61-yards. He's a much stronger version of Matt Stover. Grade: A+

Coaches: John Harbaugh had his team ready to play. It was just the team's second win on the road this year, but it came at a pivotal time. Some of the game management in the final two minutes or so wasn't the best and really could have cost the Ravens, but at the end of the day, the final result is all that matters. Grade: B

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