Mike Preston's Reports Card

Panthers 23 Ravens 21

Ravens Gameday

October 16, 2006|By MIKE PRESTON



Steve McNair played only a quarter, but he got smacked around and injured. Backup Kyle Boller was respectable, especially after not taking a lot of repetitions during the week. Boller and McNair are interchangeable, except for the last two minutes of the game when Boller panics and McNair produces.

Running backs


Despite recent criticism, Jamal Lewis ran well and played perhaps his best game since Week 1. He ran hard, accelerated through holes and got around the corner. Carolina's defense didn't take him out of the game. The Ravens' coaching staff did late in the third quarter shortly after Lewis' 17-yard run.

Offensive line


This group was dominated early but rebounded for a respectable second half. Center Mike Flynn and right guard Keydrick Vincent often got manhandled in the middle. Right tackle Tony Pashos did a decent job on Julius Peppers except for late in the game when the Ravens had to throw to catch up.



Wow! The Ravens finally used tight end Todd Heap inside the red zone for a touchdown catch. The one-handed catch over the middle was a great one. Receiver Mark Clayton was simply in the right places at the right times. Derrick Mason didn't have a catch. That should never, ever happen.

Defensive line


Tackles Kelly Gregg and Haloti Ngata were outstanding against the run, but ends Terrell Suggs and Trevor Pryce didn't get much pressure on the quarterback in passing situations. Suggs and Pryce have to play better against top competition for this team to take its game to the next level.



Adalius Thomas had the best game among the linebackers and was superb on the first-quarter goal-line stand. Fellow outside linebacker Bart Scott had five tackles but twice got hard hits on Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme to force errant passes. Ray Lewis had a team-high nine tackles.



Cornerbacks Samari Rolle and Chris McAlister couldn't cover receivers Keyshawn Johnson and Steve Smith, especially with safety Ed Reed trying to make big plays instead of helping out in coverage. You usually get a low D grade for just showing up, but this group didn't show up yesterday.

Special teams


After kicker Matt Stover, punter Sam Koch has become the offense's most valuable player. He bails out the Ravens every week; yesterday, he averaged 43.2 yards on five punts. B.J. Sams averaged 22.5 yards on four kickoff returns, but the Ravens allowed an average return of 20.8 yards on four kickoffs.

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