Ravens report card vs. the Steelers

Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 22-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Quarterback: Joe Flacco was in more control of the offense than any other time this month. He made solid decisions and he came up big on third downs. His 7-yard touchdown to Torrey Smith was on third-and-goal and followed a 54-yard strike to him. His 34-yard pass to Jacoby Jones came on third down and showed his good vision (he looked off Marlon Brown on a crossing route once Jones broke free). And his 22-yard toss to Ray Rice was the result of Flacco recognizing the blitz from safety Troy Polamalu and lobbing the ball over him. Flacco also converted a third-and-8 with a determined 9-yard run. This was also Flacco's first game without an interception since Oct. 20. Grade: B-plus.

Running backs: Backup Bernard Pierce was the more effective runner for the second straight game, although it was nothing to get too excited about. Pierce ran for 35 yards on nine carries, a 3.9-yard average. That was still better than Rice, who once again was held under three yards per carry (32 yards on 12 attempts). Rice showed some life in the passing game, and his 22-yard catch-and-run in the fourth quarter set up the Ravens' last field goal, which proved to be the difference-maker. Rice, though, has to learn to have a better handle on the emotions. His unsportsmanlike penalty at the end of a third-quarter drive turned a 23-yard field goal attempt into a 38-yard one. Grade: C-minus.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Torrey Smith finished with 93 yards, his most since eight weeks ago. He delivered the longest catch (54 yards) and the team's only touchdown, his third in four games. But Smith let two passes bounce off his hands. Jacoby Jones looks more and more comfortable as a receiver and recorded 53 yards on four catches (13.3-yard average). Brandon Stokley converted a couple of third downs before leaving with a knee sprain. Dallas Clark, Ed Dickson and Marlon Brown combined for three catches in a forgettable night for them. Grade: B.

Offensive line: Right tackle Michael Oher gets an "F," and the rest of the line receives a "B." Oher was beaten twice by Jason Worilds for sacks, and he posted the unwanted hat trick of three false start penalties. It ruined a solid performance by the offensive line. This was the cleanest pocket for Flacco in recent memory, and this allowed him to look downfield and make his read progression. Left guard A.Q. Shipley made a couple of key blocks in the run game. Grade: C-plus.

Defensive line: Haloti Ngata and Art Jones were dominant up front early but they couldn't maintain that intensity by the fourth quarter. Jones got turned out of the hole on Le'Veon Bell's 43-yard run. Take that play away, and the Ravens limited the Steelers to 30 yards on 15 carries. Chris Canty came up with another timely pass deflection at the line of scrimmage. Ngata had the hit of the game on Ben Roethlisberger, but the Steelers quarterback was able to get the ball away for an 8-yard touchdown pass to Emmanuel Sanders. Grade: B.

Linebackers: The Ravens got consistent pressure on Roethlisberger for the first three quarters, although they failed to record a sack for the first time this season. Terrell Suggs collapsed the pocket repeatedly but never got to Roethlisberger in time. Elvis Dumervil, the most penalized Ravens defender, went offside on third down in the first quarter. Inside linebackers Daryl Smith and Josh Bynes each made six tackles apiece. Grade: B.

Secondary: The secondary played great in the first half, limiting Roethlisberger to 78 yards passing. But they couldn't keep up with the speedy receivers in the second half, giving up 179 yards passing after halftime. Safety James Ihedigbo led the Ravens with 10 tackles and two passes broken up. He is an asset when playing in the box. Cornerback Jimmy Smith continues to play aggressively, ripping the ball away from Antonio Brown in the fourth quarter. But his hit on Bell at the goal line forced him out of the game with a concussion. Nickel back Corey Graham stepped up for the second straight game and finished with eight tackles. Safety Matt Elam is taking his lumps during his rookie season. His biggest problem is staying with tight ends. Grade: C.

Special teams: Justin Tucker tied a Ravens record with five field goals, and the Ravens needed every single point Thursday night. He wasn't flawless. His kickoff out of bounds in the fourth quarter led to the Steelers' second touchdown. Jacoby Jones created a spark in the return game for the second straight game. His 73-yard kickoff return may have been a touchdown if not for Steelers coach Mike Tomlin's interference. Sam Koch's only punt of the game should've pinned the Steelers inside the 10-yard line, but Antonio Brown's fair catch put the ball at the 15. Grade: A-minus.