Ravens Grades: Evaluating the Steelers game

RavensInsider.com publisher Jason Butt hands out his weekly report card following Baltimore's 23-20 loss to Pittsburgh.

Quarterback: D

Joe Flacco went a paltry 16-34 for 188 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Though he had a nice touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin in the second quarter, he didn't do much of anything else. He threw possibly his worst pass of the season for an interception and couldn't get the timing down on the deep pass to Torrey Smith. On any given day there seems to be Good Joe Flacco and Bad Joe Flacco. The bad one showed up on Sunday.

Running back: B-plus

It's hard to blame the Ravens running backs for this loss. Ray Rice had 12 carries for 78 yards and a touchdown and Bernard Pierce added 34 yards on eight carries. Pierce was a nice change-of-pace running back, which complimented Rice well. But then again, why did Rice not receive one touch in the fourth quarter? Not the backs fault they were underused. It should also be worth noting how well Vonta Leach played, making several key blocks (including a pancake on Casey Hampton) and catching four passes for 40 yards.

Wide receiver: C-plus

It's feast or famine for this group each week, and on Sunday it was the latter. Outside of Boldin, no one else stood up. Smith is just as much to blame as Flacco was for not converting some of those deep passes in single coverage. Jacoby Jones didn't get involved much and only one pass went Tandon Doss' way.

Tight end: C-minus

Not having Ed Dickson hurt the Ravens as Dennis Pitta struggled to the point where he only got open for one catch for 19 yards. Billy Bajema missed blocks in the running game routinely and didn't have a strong game. Pitta's not much of a blocker so his involvement in the passing game is important. It wasn't there Sunday night.

Offensive line: D

The offensive line struggled for the second consecutive game. Michael Oher gave up a sack at an inopportune time for the second consecutive week in a row, but this time it cost the Ravens with a turnover. Matt Birk also gave up a sack. Flacco was hit an extra two times and had to hurry the ball away five times.

Defensive line: C

After the game, Pernell McPhee said Pittsburgh wanted the game more than the Ravens did. That's how it looked up front. Haloti Ngata did get some pressures but they were limited instances. Arthur Jones picked up another sack but other than that, the front failed to get much of a push or occupy blockers for the linebackers. Pittsburgh did a good job adjusting adjusting its offensive line from the previous meeting two weeks ago.

Linebackers: D

Paul Kruger was able to record a sack but that came thanks to Charlie Batch holding on to the ball for way too long. The outside linebackers were quiet for the most part and didn't get much pressure on the quarterback. In addition, the underneath zone was horrid as the Steelers began exploiting the Ravens in the middle of the field. It was a bad game for this unit, which clearly missed Dannell Ellerbe out there. Defensive backs: C

It's hard to blame the outside corners, who played a lot of zone for the mishaps. They were doing their job, yet safety help seemed to stray and the linebackers didn't get enough depth in their drops. On Batch's poorly overthrown pass in the back of the end zone, Chykie Brown thought he had Ed Reed over the top, though Reed was nowhere near the play. Heath Miller got behind the linebackers often in the second half and made plays in the middle of the field, with safeties and corners playing catch up. After the game, Corey Graham was confused and had no answers for what happened in the second half. And the thing is, I believed him. Pittsburgh's second half adjustments surprised the heck out of them.

Special teams: B

The coverage unit finally made a mistake, though it wasn't a major one. Asa Jackson missed a tackle that allowed Steelers running back Chris Rainey to bounce a kickoff return for 42 yards. JaCoby Jones was bottled up for the entire game, only getting 74 yards on three returns. Justin Tucker added two more field goals and Sam Koch averaged 50.6 yards per punt.

Coaching: D

On offense, the Ravens didn't account for where the blitz was coming. And more often than not, when the Steelers showed a blitz, the Ravens stuck with a long developing play, forcing Flacco to throw the ball away. The Steelers stuck a man on Ray Rice in the check down aspect of the passing game, taking him out of the equation and OC Cam Cameron never adjusted. On defense, DC Dean Pees was unable to adjust to what the Steelers were doing offensively, taking advantage of wide open space in the middle. John Harbaugh also wasted a challenge on a play that had no chance of being overturned. It was all around poor effort from the coaching staff.

Total game score: 1.8 (C-minus).

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Last week: QB: C, RB: A, WR: B, TE: B, OL: C-minus, DL: A-minus, LB: A, DB: B-plus, ST: A-minus, coaching: B. Total game score: 3.1 (B).

Year to date: QB: 2.6, RB: 3.4, WR: 2.8, TE: 2.7, OL: 2.3, DL: 2.3, LB: 2.4, DB: 2.7, ST: 3.5, coaching: 2.7. Total year to date: 2.7 (B-minus).

Here's the scale -- A: 4.0, A-minus: 3.7, B-plus: 3.3, B: 3.0, B-minus: 2.7, C-plus: 2.3, C: 2.0, C-minus: 1.7, D: 1.0, F: 0.


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