Baltimore Ravens: Ravens report card

Ravens report card vs. the Panthers

September, 29, 2014
Sep 29
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 38-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers:

Quarterback: This was Joe Flacco's second career game with over 300 yards passing, three touchdown passes and no interceptions (the other was Week 3 of 2011). He completed 71 percent of his throws as well as posting season highs in average yards per attempt (10.5) and passer rating (137.4). Some will say Flacco was lucky, but he was in a zone, knowing where he wanted to go with each throw especially on third down (10 of 13 conversions). Grade: A-plus.

[+] EnlargeJustin Forsett
Patrick Semansky/AP PhotoRavens running back Justin Forsett averaged 4.7 yards per carry against the Panthers on Sunday.
Running backs: Veteran journeyman Justin Forsett ran hard on every carry and broke a total of four tackles. His 11-yard touchdown run, which he broke through Luke Kuechly's arm tackle, was pure effort. Forsett gained 20 of his 66 yards after contact. Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro was the closer with 32 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk nearly had a touchdown for the second straight week and had a strong game as a lead blocker. Grade: A.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Steve Smith was the headliner once again with seven catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Nearly half of his yards came after the catch. Not bad for a 35-year-old receiver. There was a Torrey Smith sighting. He had two catches for 53 yards (including a 24-yard touchdown) and drew two pass interference penalties that totaled 29 yards. Marlon Brown caught all three passes thrown his way for 31 yards. Jacoby Jones dropped his fourth pass of the season. Grade: A-minus.

Offensive line: The Ravens didn't give up a sack for a third straight game, and guard Marshal Yanda allowed the only hit on Flacco. The line was just as impressive in opening holes for a running game that gained 127 yards. Running backs gained 79 of those yards (or 62 percent) before getting touched. Yanda and center Jeremy Zuttah were dominant in run blocking. Rookie left tackle James Hurst held up well in his first career start, but he didn't get his blocks and got turned around at times in the run game. He didn't allow a quarterback hurry or hit. Grade: A-minus.

Defensive line: The Panthers weren't at full strength at running back, but it wouldn't have mattered based on the play of Haloti Ngata and Brandon Williams up front. Their play was a big reason why the Panthers averaged 2.6 yards per carry. Chris Canty had his best game despite being questionable for the game with a knee injury. He was part of an inspired pass rush, recording a quarterback hurry and knocking down a pass. Grade: B-plus.

Linebackers: Rookie first-round pick C.J. Mosley was all over the field, stopping the run, playing coverage and rushing the passer. He finished with a season-high 11 tackles and broke up two passes. The Ravens crashed the edges with Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, both of whom combined for two sacks. Suggs had two quarterback hits. Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee delivered five quarterback hurries with an inside pass rush. Daryl Smith was strong in run support with eight tackles. Grade: B-plus.

Secondary: Jimmy Smith gets an "A" while the starting safeties get a "D." Smith shadowed Kelvin Benjamin, the Panthers' top receiver, and gave up two catches for 25 yards. He even drew an offensive pass interference penalty. But he didn't get much support. Free safety Darian Stewart didn't provide deep help, which allowed Benjamin to get open for Carolina's only touchdown. He just lacks instincts in pass coverage. Cam Newton did make some excellent throws, but strong safety Matt Elam has to get a better feel on when the ball is coming. He doesn't turn in time. Grade: C.

Special teams: Sam Koch had only one punt, and it should have pinned Carolina at its own 2-yard line. But Albert McClellan's personal foul gave the Panthers some breathing room. Justin Tucker had six touchbacks, although he missed a 57-yard field goal. Jacoby Jones is pressing so much to make a play that he fielded a punt at his own 2-yard line in the first quarter. That's not playing smart. Grade: C-plus.

Ravens report card at the Browns

September, 22, 2014
Sep 22
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 23-21 victory at the Cleveland Browns:

Quarterback: This wasn't a strong performance by Joe Flacco outside of his final pass. In the fourth quarter, he didn't see a wide open Lorenzo Taliaferro on second-and-goal and he heaved an ill-advised throw downfield when pressured, which resulted in an interception. Flacco was 1-of-4 in the red zone, and only two of his third-down completions resulted in first downs. But Flacco made the perfect 32-yard pass to Steve Smith, putting the Ravens in range for the winning field goal. Grade: B-minus.

Running backs: Rookie running back Taliaferro more than filled the void left by Bernard Pierce, who was scratched with a thigh injury. He gained 91 yards with decisiveness in hitting the lane and physically finishing off runs. One-third of his 18 carries resulted in a gain of 6 yards or more. Justin Forsett produced in the second half, running for 54 yards on six carries after halftime. Kyle Juszczyk capitalized on the Browns failing to cover him. He scored a touchdown on his first career catch, and he added a 33-yard reception. Grade: A.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Smith gets an "A," while the rest of the receivers and tight ends get an "F." Smith had nearly half of Flacco's passing yards with 101. Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones had critical drops. The Ravens lost tight end Dennis Pitta to a hip injury in the second quarter. Owen Daniels only had one catch for 8 yards. Grade: C-minus.

Offensive line: The Ravens allowed Ravens running backs to gain 100 yards before contact, which shows the running lanes created up front. Still, this group struggled to get push on short-yardage plays and around the goal line. Left guard Kelechi Osemele and right tackle Rick Wagner stood out the most. The line didn't allow a sack for a second consecutive game, but Flacco was hit three times and was pressured early in the game. Right guard Marshal Yanda got beat by former teammate Paul Kruger on a pressure that led to a Flacco interception. Grade: B.

Defensive line: Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata finished with six tackles, tripling his total in the first two weeks. Nose tackle Brandon Williams added three stops for a run defense that limited the Browns to 3 yards per carry (and probably less in between the tackles). This is a banged-up group with Chris Canty slowed with a leg injury and Timmy Jernigan out with a knee issue. Grade: B.

Linebackers: All of the linebackers struggled in this one. Inside linebackers Daryl Smith and C.J. Mosley couldn't get off blocks, and outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Courtney Upshaw failed to set the edge, which led to some big outside runs. There were lapses in coverage, especially earlier in the game. Mosley made a boneheaded personal foul when he hit center Alex Mack in the helmet (Browns scored a touchdown on the next play). Grade: D.

Secondary: It was one of the worst collective performances by a Ravens secondary in recent memory. The defensive backs could neither cover nor tackle. Matt Elam got beat for passes of 43 and 70 yards. Lardarius Webb got turned around in his first game back from a back injury. Asa Jackson and Chykie Brown missed tackles. And Darian Stewart just doesn't have the instincts of an NFL starter. How bad was it? Browns QB Brian Hoyer only had two incompletions in the first three quarters. Grade: F.

Special teams: Jackson changed the momentum in the game by blocking Billy Cundiff's 36-yard field in the fourth quarter. Justin Tucker made field goals of 38, 21 and 32 yards, which included his seventh game winner as time expired. Sam Koch netted 44 yards on three punts and pinned the Browns at their own 7-yard line late in the fourth quarter. Jacoby Jones was a non-factor as a returner. Grade: A-minus.
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 23-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals:

Quarterback: Joe Flacco nearly pulled off the comeback with a brilliant 80-yard touchdown pass to Steve Smith in the fourth quarter. He also showed his toughness again when he took a big hit in converting a fourth-and-1 with his legs. This doesn't get him off the hook for an awful three quarters. Flacco let the clock run out in the first half, which is what you would expect out of Kyle Boller and not a Super Bowl MVP. He also threw a momentum-killing interception in the third quarter just two plays after a blocked field goal. Grade: C-minus.

Running backs: Justin Forsett was the biggest surprise of the game with 70 yards rushing on 11 carries. He looked like a viable playmaker instead of a veteran journeyman. Bernard Pierce averaged 2.3 yards per carry (14 yards on six carries) before fumbling at his own 20-yard line. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk was underused with just one pass thrown his way, and the Ravens threw the ball 62 times. Grade: C.

Wide receivers/tight ends: The Ravens combined for seven dropped passes, by my count. Steve Smith, Jacoby Jones and Torrey Smith all had the ball bounce off their hands in key situations. The highlight was Smith bullying his way to the end zone for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter. It was shocking to see Dennis Pitta with 10 catches on the stat sheet. It was a quiet day for someone with double-digit receptions. Grade: D.

Offensive line: Center Jeremy Zuttah struggled at times, especially in the first half. Left tackle Eugene Monroe was flagged for two penalties. Right tackle Rick Wagner held up well, and the two sacks that came from the right side weren't entirely his fault. One was a coverage sack, and the other was the result of the Bengals overloading that side with a safety blitz. Overall, Flacco was hit seven times on 65 dropbacks. Grade: C-plus.

Defensive line: The Ravens held the Bengals to three yards per carry, which is a reflection of the hard work upfront. Nose tackle Brandon Williams did the best in limited action, holding his ground in the middle and chasing down speedy running back Giovani Bernard for a short gain. Chris Canty recorded four tackles and Haloti Ngata knocked down a pass. Grade: B-minus.

Linebackers: The supposed strength of the defense delivered a disappointing effort. Daryl Smith looked a step slow in pass coverage, which led to Bernard's big gains on screens. Rookie C.J. Mosley missed a handful of tackles. Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil combined for no sacks and no quarterback hits. Grade: D.

Secondary: Strong safety Matt Elam was one of the best defenders on the field for the Ravens. His hard-hitting style was on display, especially when he undercut A.J. Green on an early pass. Jimmy Smith didn't look too rusty after missing the last two preseason games, and Chykie Brown played admirably in Lardarius Webb's absence. Brown did give up the game-winning 77-yard touchdown to Green, although that was a matchup few would expect him to win. Free safety Darian Stewart got turned around twice in trying to bring down Green on that play. Grade: C.

Special teams: Justin Tucker missed wide right on 55-yard field-goal attempt. Jacoby Jones let a punt slip through his arms at his own 13-yard line and was lucky to recover the ball. Sam Koch only netted 31 yards on four punts. And Kamar Aiken got a careless personal foul on a kickoff return, which pushed the Ravens deeper in their territory to start their first drive. What saved this group was Jeromy Miles blocking a field goal. Grade: D.

Ravens report card at the Bengals

December, 30, 2013
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 34-17 loss at the Cincinnati Bengals.

Quarterback: Joe Flacco had another rough outing, but I'm not sure how many quarterbacks with one good leg would fare against that constant pass rush. Of his three fourth-quarter interceptions, one came on a deflected pass and another was thrown while being sandwiched on an all-out blitz. The third pick was just a poor throw behind Torrey Smith, and it was returned for a touchdown. Flacco's longest pass was 14 yards, a reflection on the pass rush and his inability to step into passes. Without the ability to comfortably run out of the pocket, Flacco got hit so many times that he hurt his left knee again as well as elbow. Giving Flacco a failing mark here would be another hit that he doesn't deserve. Grade: D.

Running backs: Bernard Pierce was the more effective runner, averaging 5.6 yards and breaking a 14-yard run. Ray Rice was able to get around the corner for the game-tying two-point conversion in the third quarter. But his best run was his celebratory sprint down the sideline after reaching the end zone. Where was that burst all season? Rice's thigh injury, though, limited him to two series in the first half. It was the eighth time this year that the Ravens were held under 3.5 yards per carry as a team and failed to score a rushing touchdown. Grade: D.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones were non-factors because the Bengals took away the deep pass. They combined for four catches for 38 yards. Jones would’ve had a touchdown in the fourth quarter if Flacco had thrown into the middle of the field, but a blitz caused him to hurry a pass to the outside. Dennis Pitta caught eight passes for 63 yards, but only three went for first downs. Rookie Marlon Brown came up big in the red zone, scoring the Ravens’ only touchdown. Grade: D.

Offensive line: The Ravens had trouble handling the Bengals’ blitzes, speed off the edges and twists inside, which exposed communication problems between guards Marshal Yanda and A.Q. Shipley as well as center Gino Gradkowski. Left tackle Eugene Monroe got beat by Michael Johnson for one sack. In total, the Ravens allowed two sacks and seven quarterback hits. Baltimore wanted to run in the red zone, but it was another tough day for the ground game (3.4 yards per carry). Grade: D.

Defensive line: The Ravens missed Art Jones, their best lineman who was inactive after suffering a concussion the previous game. Bengals running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis gouged Baltimore in between the tackles, gaining 66 yards on 11 carries. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata finished with a season-high seven tackles. In comparison, the other linemen combined for seven tackles. Grade: D.

Linebackers: Outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil combined for no sacks and no quarterback pressures. Suggs finished with one tackle, and Dumervil was shut out. Andy Dalton fooled Suggs twice on the read option, scoring the go-ahead touchdown on a one-yard run. Inside linebacker Daryl Smith only had five tackles. Smith and the other linebackers had difficulty keeping up with shifty running back Giovani Bernard in the passing game. Grade: F.

Secondary: It was a boom-or-bust kind of a game for the defensive backs. The Ravens picked off Dalton four times, getting interceptions from Corey Graham, James Ihedigbo, Lardarius Webb and Jimmy Smith. Graham and Smith wrestled the ball away for the turnovers, and Smith did so in the end zone. But the Ravens also had trouble sticking with the receivers. Safety Matt Elam got burned so bad by A.J. Green that he tried to hold the Pro Bowl receiver and whiffed, which resulted in a 53-yard touchdown. Baltimore also lost track of Andrew Hawkins in the end zone in the second quarter, but Dalton overthrew him. Grade: C.

Special teams: Justin Tucker had another multiple field goal game, hitting from 38, 22 and 34 yards. Jacoby Jones was solid on returns, averaging 28.2 on kickoffs. But one of his long runbacks was hurt by a penalty on Jeromy Miles. Punter Sam Koch netted 41.7 yards on six punts. Grade: B-minus.

Ravens report card at the Lions

December, 17, 2013
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 18-16 win at the Detroit Lions.

Quarterback: Joe Flacco once again came through when the Ravens needed him the most, converting a third-and-15 with a 27-yard pass to Jacoby Jones to set up the winning field goal. Flacco moved around in the pocket better in this game than he has all season, whether it was shaking off a pass-rusher or stepping up in the pocket. Even though this didn't need proving, Flacco showed toughness by bouncing back from a nasty hit on his left knee. He struggled with his accuracy at times (52 percent completion rate) and failed to get the ball in the end zone on three red zone trips. The best part about his stat line: no interceptions. It's only the second time that has happened over the past seven games. Grade: B.

Running backs: Ray Rice received only 12 carries and he made the most of them. He gained 56 yards and averaged 4.7 yards, his second highest in a game this season. Rice got better as the game went on and had 43 yards in the second half. When he did get a clear path, Rice still wasn't able to kick it into that extra gear like he's done in the past. Backup Bernard Pierce didn't contribute much with 21 yards on seven carries. Grade: B-minus.

Wide receivers/tight ends: The Ravens' wide receivers were able to get open in the middle of the field. That's where the Ravens did most of their damage in the passing game against a Lions secondary that was missing two of its top three cornerbacks. Jones made the biggest catch of the game in the fourth quarter. Marlon Brown finished with 31 yards receiving, but he drew 39 yards in penalties from the Lions (pass interference and unnecessary roughness). It was a disappointing game for Torrey Smith, who managed four catches despite 12 targets. Dennis Pitta was quiet with 24 yards on two receptions, including nothing in the second half. Grade: B-minus.

Offensive line: The Ravens' offensive line held up surprisingly well against a strong Lions front. Baltimore averaged more than 4 yards per carry for just the second time this season. The pass protection was adequate, although there were times when the Lions crashed the edges. Right tackle Michael Oher had trouble with Willie Young (who pushed Oher back to hit Flacco's arm on a third down in the fourth quarter), and left tackle Eugene Monroe let Devin Taylor go unblocked on a third down in the second quarter, which ended another drive. Grade: B.

Defensive line: This group was pushed around in the opening drive and quickly turned it around. Haloti Ngata rebounded from a slow start to finish with five tackles, one quarterback hit and one batted pass (which happened in the fourth quarter). Art Jones had another strong game and seemed more active than three tackles (one behind the line). Backup DeAngelo Tyson showed off his agility dropping back and catching a deflected pass for his first career interception. Grade: B.

Linebackers: Daryl Smith had the Ravens' only sack, which came on a blitz up the middle, and recorded his third interception of the season. He was in position on the Lions' fourth-quarter touchdown pass to tight end Joseph Fauria, but he never turned around in order to make the play. Elvis Dumervil made an impact in the pass rush after missing last week's game, recording a couple of quarterback hits. Terrell Suggs has to do a better job of consistently setting the edge. The Ravens gave up a touchdown on the opening series because Suggs got sucked inside. Grade: B.

Secondary: The Ravens held Calvin Johnson without a catch for the first 22 minutes because of a couple of drops and Jimmy Smith's coverage. Smith shadowed a wide receiver for the first time this season and he was able to limit Johnson to 98 yards, which was 32 yards under his home average this season. Matt Elam shook off a nightmare first drive (missed tackle and unnecessary roughness penalty) and finished with a career-high 10 tackles and his first career interception. Lardarius Webb was more aggressive, especially on those wide receiver screens. But he should've been flagged for pass interference in the end zone. Grade: B-plus.

Special teams: Justin Tucker continues to raise the bar with six field goals, accounting for all of the Ravens' scoring. His 61-yard field goal, which would have been good from a couple more yards back, was his third game-winner of the season. Jones had a 24-yard punt return, and his 36-yard kickoff return jumpstarted the winning drive. Not sure why teams continue to kick to Jones, especially late in games. The Ravens contained returner Jeremy Ross outside of one kickoff return (33 yards). Grade: A.

Ravens report card vs. the Vikings

December, 9, 2013
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 29-26 win against the Minnesota Vikings.

Quarterback: The way Joe Flacco carried the offense in the final couple of minutes makes you scratch your head and wonder why he can't perform at that level the rest of the time. In his first 13 drives, Flacco completed 21 of 40 passes for 183 yards, with one touchdown and three interceptions (passer rating of 41.9). Though the snow played a factor, two of Flacco's interceptions were extremely poor throws. Flacco turned it around on his last two series, connecting on 7 of 10 passes for 62 yards and two touchdowns (passer rating of 125.8). His game-winning, nine-yard touchdown pass to a leaping Marlon Brown was put in a spot only the rookie wide receiver could get it. Grade: B.

Running backs: Ray Rice started to look like the running back everyone remembered in the second half when the footing on the field improved. Rice ran for 49 yards on nine carries after halftime, a 5.4-yard average. Some of this had to do with going against the NFL's 23rd-ranked run defense. Rice also added five catches for 42 yards. Bernard Pierce was a non-factor with 12 yards on seven attempts (1.7-yard average). It's never good for the running backs when the longest run of the day is by your quarterback (Flacco's fearless 22-yard dash set up the first touchdown). Fullback Vonta Leach was stopped on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter. Grade: C.

Wide receivers/tight ends: For most of the day, the receivers struggled to get open and dropped passes. Brown stepped up on the last game-winning drive, beginning it with a 35-yard catch and ending it with a nine-yard touchdown grab where he deftly got both feet down in the back of the end zone. In his first game back since dislocating his hip, tight end Dennis Pitta shook off a rusty start and finished with six catches for 48 yards. He converted one third down with an impressive leaping catch, and he put the Ravens ahead late in the fourth quarter with a one-yard touchdown reception on fourth-and-goal. But it was not a good day for Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, at least not on offense. Smith let a deep pass go through his hands and ended with one catch for a season-low 11 yards. Jones was the blame for Flacco's third interception, a pass that bounced off his shoulder pads. Grade: C-plus.

Offensive line: This maligned group held up well in pass protection. Flacco was sacked twice, and both were coverage sacks. The line also started pushing the Vikings off the ball in the second half, except for that critical fourth-down run in the fourth quarter. Penalties remain a problem. Holding penalties on right tackle Michael Oher and center Gino Gradkowski negated decent runs, and right guard Marshal Yanda had a false start on a two-point conversion. Grade: C-plus.

Defensive line: Haloti Ngata was a force in the first half, but disappeared in the second. Chris Canty continues to knock down passes, getting a hand on two of Matt Cassel's throws. Art Jones led the linemen with five tackles, including one for a loss. A lot will be made of the Ravens giving up 114 yards on the ground without Adrian Peterson in the game. But Toby Gerhart's 41-yard touchdown run came against a three-man front (Canty was the only starting lineman on the field). Take that away, and the Ravens gave up 73 yards on 24 carries (3.0-yard average). Grade: B.

Linebackers: Terrell Suggs played a strong game until the end, when he didn't recognize the draw (Gerhart's 41-yard touchdown) and failed to get a grip on Cordarrelle Patterson on the receiver's 79-yard catch-and-run. Inside linebacker Daryl Smith was caught overpursuing on that Patterson touchdown. Courtney Upshaw made a costly mistake when he was flagged for roughing the passer, which led to the Vikings' first touchdown in the fourth quarter. It was the Ravens' second straight game without a sack, and not having Elvis Dumervil (ankle) hurt them. Grade: D.

Secondary: Safety Matt Elam and cornerback Lardarius Webb had awful games. Elam finally made a play, recovering a fumble that the Ravens converted into a touchdown in the first quarter. After that, it got ugly for the first-round pick. Elam whiffed, along with safety James Ihedigbo, on Gerhart's touchdown up the middle of the defense, and then was embarrassingly turned around by Patterson in the open field on the Vikings' other late touchdown. Webb seemed hesitant about his footing on the snowy field and gave up a lot of catches. He had a bull's-eye on his back for most of the game. Grade: D.

Special teams: Everyone will remember Jacoby Jones tip-toeing his way down the sideline for a 77-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. But it was special teams coach Jerry Rosburg who recognized a pooch kick was coming. He told Jones to run up right before the kickoff, allowing the Pro Bowl returner to field the ball before it hit the ground. Jones also provided a 22-yard punt return as well. Sam Koch placed two punts inside the 20-yard line, and netted a season-best 45.7 yards on six kicks. The coverage team did give up a 42-yard kickoff return to Patterson. Grade: A-minus.

Ravens report card vs. the Steelers

November, 29, 2013
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.

Ravens report card vs. Jets: Defense

November, 25, 2013
Grading the Baltimore Ravens' defense and special teams in the 19-3 win over the New York Jets.

Defensive line: It was a dominating performance, but the players up front made timely plays. Haloti Ngata, who was less than full strength, set the tone by stopping Chris Ivory short on third-and-1 on the opening drive. Chris Canty knocked down a third-down pass when the Jets were backed up inside their own 10-yard line. Art Jones had three tackles, and Pernell McPhee had a sack and a tackle for a loss in the fourth quarter. The Jets, though, did run for 102 yards. Grade: B.

Linebackers: Daryl Smith was once again all over the field, breaking up three passes (he should've intercepted the one) and recording a sack that stalled the Jets' drive following Joe Flacco's interception. Terrell Suggs only had a quarterback hit but he was constantly in the face of Geno Smith. In run defense, he has to make sure to set the edge because poor technique led to an 18-yard run. Suggs showed good awareness to jump on the fumble, which was the on the ground because the Jets snapped the ball into a motioning receiver. Elvis Dumervil's sack ended the game. Grade: B.

Secondary: Corey Graham was the playmaker of the day with two interceptions and another pass breakup. His last interception in the end zone came from him reading Smith's eyes and leaving his assigned receiver to make the play. Lardarius Webb was the best tackler on the field and led the team with six. He also forced the ball out for a third-down incompletion in the second quarter. Safety James Ihedigbo is at his best when he's in the box. Rookie Matt Elam has a tendency to be a step behind on those crossing routes. Grade: A.

Special teams: Justin Tucker accounted for the Ravens' first 12 points, making all four field goals on the day. His 53-yarder was a season long. Sam Koch hit a perfect 64-yard punt that was downed at the Jets' 2-yard line early in the third quarter, a change of field position that eventually led to a field goal. He put two fourth-quarter punts inside the 20-yard line. Tandon Doss made the critical mistake of not fielding a punt, which rolled to the Ravens' 8-yard line (it cost the Ravens 25 yards in field position). Jacoby Jones took the rest of the punts and showed explosion in doing so. He averaged 21.6 yards on five punts, including a 37-yarder in the third quarter. On that punt, Courtney Upshaw cleared the way with a crushing block. Grade: A.

Ravens report card vs. Jets: Offense

November, 25, 2013
Grading the Baltimore Ravens offense in the 19-3 win over the New York Jets.

Quarterback: This was one of Joe Flacco's better efforts of the season. He rediscovered the deep passing attack, connecting on two passes over 60 yards. Flacco hit Torrey Smith in stride for a 60-yarder and showed his arm strength on a 66-yard touchdown to Jacoby Jones. His only interception was the result of Marlon Brown running the wrong route. And he would've had another touchdown if Jones held onto the ball in the end zone in the first quarter. Backup Tyrod Taylor provided a spark by taking a handful of snaps. He had the longest run of the game for the Ravens (17 yards) before the Jets adjusted to stop him behind the line on his last two attempts. Grade: B.

Running backs: Everyone got their answer as to whether Ray Rice turned the corner in Chicago a week ago. He was back to averaging less than two yards per carry (1.9) and didn't break a run longer than seven yards. This time, Rice has a good excuse for his low numbers. The Jets have the NFL's best run defense. He was also stopped for a three-yard loss on his only catch after being brought down by 294-pound defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson in the open field. Bernard Pierce also had a pedestrian effort with 30 yards on 11 carries. Grade: D.

Wide receivers/tight ends: It's games like Sunday that make you wonder why the Ravens haven't tried to get Jacoby Jones more involved earlier in the season. He showed outstanding speed in blowing past Ed Reed and tracking Flacco's deep pass for the Ravens' longest touchdown of the season. He finished with 103 yards, his first 100-yard game as a Raven. This wasn't the only surprise. After dropping a pass, tight end Ed Dickson had catches of 27 and 13 yards on that same drive to set up a field goal. He ran over Reed on one reception as he produced a season-high 55 yards. Torrey Smith was relatively quiet outside of his 60-yard catch, and Tandon Doss continues to have trouble holding onto passes. There were a good number of coverage sacks because no one got open. Grade: B-minus.

Offensive line: As expected, the Ravens had problems opening holes against one of the best front seven in the league. Baltimore averaged 2.2 yards per carry, the second lowest average in a game this season. Right tackle Michael Oher is having trouble getting any kind of push off the line and he's having trouble keeping up on the zone blocking schemes when he has to cut the back-side pursuit. Left guard A.Q. Shipley struggled, especially in pass rush. He could've been called for holding four times Sunday. But, as coach John Harbaugh pointed out, the four sacks allowed were the result of good coverage. It looked like there were fewer communication issues with the line Sunday. Grade: C-minus.

Ravens report card at Bears

November, 18, 2013
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 23-20 overtime loss at the Chicago Bears.

Quarterback: The wind played a factor in Joe Flacco’s second straight game of being held under 200 yards. He also didn’t get much protection on his blind side and had some clutch throws dropped. But Flacco looked bad on both of his interceptions. It’s surprising that Flacco didn’t see a 6-foot-4 defensive end on the one pick that was returned for a touchdown. His second one was forced into tight coverage to Dallas Clark down the seam. Flacco’s best pass was threading a 5-yard touchdown throw to Torrey Smith in an extremely tight window. Grade: C.

Running backs: Ray Rice wasn’t exactly the same Ray Rice but he had his best game of the season by exploiting the NFL’s second-worst run defense. He ran with more determination than he’s done all season, although his burst still isn’t up to his old standards. Rice finished with 131 yards rushing, which are 57 more than he’s had in a game this season. After running for 47 yards on his first carry, Rice didn’t have another gain over 13 yards the rest of the game. His biggest mistake was failing to get defensive end David Bass on the ground with a cut block, allowing the rookie to pick off Flacco for a touchdown. Bernard Pierce didn’t have a good feel for where the holes were, a big reason why he averaged 1.8 yards per carry (18 yards on 10 carries). Grade: B-plus.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Torrey Smith was limited to 32 yards receiving (second lowest of the season) and 6.4 yards per catch (his lowest since the fourth game of his rookie season). Some of that was the result of strong wind gusts, but Smith has faded this month. It’s strange to say that for a receiver who has had touchdown catches in back-to-back games. Clark is no Dennis Pitta, but he comes up with big-time catches. His fourth-down reception was the biggest play on the game-tying drive at the end of regulation. Is it me or have half of Clark’s receptions been one-handed this year? Tandon Doss and Ed Dickson had drops. Grade: C-minus.

Offensive line: The run blocking was the strongest it’s been all season, and Rice commented that he hasn’t seen such big running lanes this season. It was the best game for left guard A.Q. Shipley. The same can’t be said for left tackle Eugene Monroe. He was beaten for two sacks by Julius Peppers, who had two sacks in his previous nine games. Right guard Marshal Yanda had two penalties, one of which took the Ravens out of field-goal range early in the second quarter. Center Gino Gradkowski’s shotgun snap in the mud on third-and-goal hurt the Ravens’ last chance to win the game in regulation. Grade: C.

Defensive line: Not sure how much the Ravens missed Haloti Ngata (knee) because the Bears attacked the edges with their running game more than up the gut. It’s hard to remember any impact plays from this group other than Art Jones’ stop of Matt Forte on third down early in the game and a quarterback hit by Chris Canty. The line was simply a nonfactor. Grade: C.

Linebackers: Terrell Suggs finished with a season-worst one tackle and missed a tackle on Matt Forte which led to a 15-yard gain on the opening drive. He gets paid to get to the quarterback and he finished with no sacks and no quarterback hits. Elvis Dumervil didn’t have a tackle for the second time in three weeks. It wasn’t a smart play when he shoved Josh McCown to the ground after he threw the ball, which drew a roughing-the-passer penalty in the fourth quarter. Daryl Smith had only six tackles and had a critical miss on Forte on the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth. Grade: F.

Secondary: The cornerbacks were physical for a second straight week. Jimmy Smith stepped up after a penalty in the end zone to break up two passes on that same drive, which forced a field goal. Lardarius Webb was solid in run defense and did all he could on that 43-yard pass in overtime to tight end Martellus Bennett, who simply had more size. What the secondary failed to fix was letting Alshon Jeffery go uncovered on shallow crossing routes. It happened twice, including a third-down play in overtime. Grade: B-minus.

Special teams: Justin Tucker is the team’s MVP. He hit a 52-yard field goal in windy conditions and came through with a 21-yarder in the mud to send the game into overtime. The Ravens kept dangerous returner Devin Hester in check, holding him to a 28-yard kickoff return. The Ravens didn’t get much out of their return game either, besides a great hit by fullback Kyle Juszczyk when he was returning a kickoff. And when it came to mistakes, it was the Bears committing the penalties on special teams. Grade: B-plus.

Ravens report card vs. Bengals

November, 11, 2013
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 20-17 overtime win against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Quarterback: After Joe Flacco bought time before throwing his first touchdown, it was a shaky performance for most of the way. He would've been picked off four times if the Bengals defenders could catch. His first interception was a case of him doing too much. When you're wrapped up, you need to just take the sack and, to his credit, Flacco didn't make that mistake again this game. His fumble, when he got stripped while trying to throw the ball, showed a lack of pocket awareness. Despite the struggles, Flacco did make the two short passes in overtime to get in range for the winning field goal. Grade: C-minus.

[+] EnlargeJustin Tucker
Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY SportsBaltimore's Justin Tucker celebrates his game-winning FG to beat the Bengals 20-17 in overtime.
Running backs: Just like he has all season, Ray Rice struggled to run the ball and break tackles in the open field. He averaged 1.7 yards per carry (30 yards on 18 attempts) and managed 4.3 yards per reception (26 yards on team-high six catches). His longest run was five yards and, as fantasy owners know, he failed to score a touchdown on two red-zone carries. Bernard Pierce ran harder than he's had this season, although the effort only produced 31 yards on eight carries (3.9-yard average). The longest run of 18 yards was from backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor, who took a pitch after lining up in the slot. Grade: D.

Wide receivers/tight ends: The Ravens did what they should do all season -- get the ball to Torrey Smith. He only totaled 46 yards, but Flacco targeted him 14 times. Smith made a leaping grab for a seven-yard touchdown, which proved he has no fear in going over the middle. The tight ends came up big at critical times. Ed Dickson's eight-yard catch put the Ravens in field-goal range in overtime, and Dallas Clark's only catch was a one-yard touchdown. Wide receiver Jacoby Jones drew a 48-yard pass interference penalty after getting behind the defense on a flea flicker, setting up that Clark score. The other receivers were nonexistent. Grade: C-plus.

Offensive line: It's easy to access the line's play when you see the Ravens' running backs averaged 2.8 yards per carry and Flacco got sacked five times. The line is getting beat physically in run blocking. In pass protection, there are too many lapses in communication. A Bengals defender had a free run at Flacco by coming up the middle after left guard A.Q. Shipley and center Gino Gradkowski failed to pick him up. Right tackle Michael Oher struggled against Carlos Dunlap and allowed too much penetration on that forced fumble of Flacco. Left tackle Eugene Monroe was the team's best lineman for a second straight week. Right guard Marshal Yanda does get style points for hoisting up Torrey Smith after his touchdown. Grade: D.

Defensive line: Haloti Ngata must have been hearing the criticism because he delivered his best game in recent memory. He was a force inside and slammed shifty running back Giovani Bernard to the ground in the first quarter when there was a lot of space on the left side. Even after he injured his left knee, Ngata made an impact and finished with five tackles and one batted down pass. Arthur Jones sacked Andy Dalton in the red zone, which held the Bengals to a field goal on the opening drive in the third quarter. Chris Canty added a quarterback hit. Grade: B.

Linebackers: It's been a hot-and-cold season for Elvis Dumervil, who led the team with 2.5 sacks after disappearing in Cleveland. He made his presence known Sunday with three quarterback hits, two tackles behind the line and one batted down pass. In the fourth quarter, Dumervil had 1.5 sacks. Inside linebacker Daryl Smith did his best in trying to limit Bernard and stopped him short of the first down in the opening drive. Terrell Suggs had a quiet day with no sacks or quarterback hits. Grade: B.

Secondary: This was the secondary's most aggressive effort of the season, and it came against a talented group of Bengals receivers. Cornerback Lardarius Webb ripped the ball away from receiver Marvin Jones for an interception and caused havoc on his repeated blitzes. Jimmy Smith stripped Mohamed Sanu to break up another pass. The star of the defensive backfield was James Ihedigbo, who had his first two career interceptions and helped stop Bernard on fourth down in overtime. What kept this from being an 'A' game was the "bone-head" play by Ihedigbo on the Hail Mary touchdown that sent the game to overtime. Grade: B-plus.

Special teams: Justin Tucker won the game with a 46-yard kick in overtime, but don't forget about him making a 36-yarder into the swirling wind earlier in the game. He's automatic these days. Sam Koch had a more consistent effort with three punts inside the 20-yard line and a 55-yarder that helped change field position. Returners Tandon Doss and Jacoby Jones were non-factors. Grade: B-plus.

Ravens report card at the Browns

November, 4, 2013
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 24-18 loss at the Cleveland Browns:

Quarterback: Joe Flacco was off target for most of the game at a time when the Ravens can't afford for him to be off his game. In two touchdown drives, he was 7-of-8 for 98 yards. On the 10 other drives, he barely completed half of his throws (17-of-33) for 152 yards. His worst throw of the season, a sadly underthrown pass deep downfield, resulted in his ninth interception of the season. Flacco did his best to keep plays alive with his feet. Overall, Flacco was too rusty coming off the bye. Grade: C-minus.

Running backs: Ray Rice proclaimed he was at full strength and yet he struggled like all of the other games this season. He totaled 17 yards rushing on 11 carries. That's a 1.5-yard average. That's also 8 yards fewer than Flacco had running the ball. After gaining 10 yards on his first two carries, Rice managed 7 yards on his last nine attempts. He's also becoming a liability in pass protection. Backup Bernard Pierce didn't fare much better with 11 yards on six carries (1.8-yard average). Fullback Vonta Leach has become an afterthought in the Ravens' new three-wide attack. Grade: F.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Undrafted rookie Marlon Brown is starting to make everyone forget about Anquan Boldin with his play in the red zone. He caught two touchdowns and scored on a two-point conversion. Including Brown, the Ravens' wide receivers combined for a season-best 19 receptions for 212 yards. Torrey Smith got behind the defense for a 46-yard reception, which would've been a 65-yard touchdown if Flacco had hit him in stride. Tight end Dallas Clark continued his up-and-down season with one catch for 14 yards. Ed Dickson had one catch and one drop, which sums up his shaky season. Grade: B.

Offensive line: There were very few holes opened in the running game and too many problems in pass protection. This goes for Sunday or any of the other eight games in 2013. Right tackle Michael Oher got beat for a sack, and Oher and right guard Marshal Yanda let a cornerback run between them on a delayed blitz. A.Q. Shipley struggled in run blocking and was called for a false start. Center Gino Gradkowski was flagged for holding two plays after the Ravens forced a fumble, a penalty that stalled the drive. Grade: D.

Defensive line: The Ravens' front shut down the Browns' ground attack. Cleveland running backs combined for 42 yards on 23 carries, a 1.8-yard average. Pernell McPhee forced former Ravens running back Willis McGahee to fumble. Art Jones had a quarterback hit, and Terrence Cody had a tackle for a loss. Chris Canty delivered the hardest hit on quarterback Jason Campbell early in the game. The one criticism is the lineman allowed Campbell to escape the pocket too many times. Grade: B.

Linebackers: Middle linebacker Daryl Smith was all over the field again with a team-leading nine tackles, two quarterback hits, one tackle for a loss and one pass broken up. Terrell Suggs recorded his ninth sack of the season on the first play from scrimmage and added seven tackles. Jameel McClain made an impact in run defense. But where was Elvis Dumervil? He didn't have a tackle, sack or quarterback hit. Grade: C.

Secondary: It was one of Lardarius Webb's worst games with the Ravens. He got faked out so bad on Davone Bess' 20-yard touchdown that it wouldn't surprise me if he was listed on the injury report this week with sore ankles. The communication breakdowns seemed to happen at the worst time. No one was covering blocking tight end Gary Barnidge on a 4-yard touchdown. Rookie safety Matt Elam looked confused at times. The strange part is this group held the Browns' top playmakers, wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron, in check. It was Greg Little who caused the most problems. Grade: D.

Special teams: Tandon Doss made the mistake of the game when he let punt slip through his arms and then failed to recover it when the ball was just below him. He should have been charged with two fumbles on that play. That turnover inside the Ravens' 15-yard line was converted into a touchdown. Doss had returns of 36 and 27 yards but those didn't redeem him. Sam Koch shanked another punt. This time it was a 25-yarder in the fourth quarter when he should have pinned the Browns deep in their territory. The coverage teams were solid, and Justin Tucker hit a 51-yard field goal. Grade: D.

Ravens report card at the Steelers

October, 21, 2013
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 19-16 loss at the Pittsburgh Steelers:

Quarterback: It was another slow start for Joe Flacco, who threw for 90 yards in the first half. He came alive in the fourth quarter, going 9-of-10 for 60 yards and a touchdown on the game-tying drive. Flacco did a solid job of moving to avoid the pressure and nearly had a Ben Roethlisberger moment in the red zone early in the fourth quarter. His biggest mistake was underthrowing an open Jacoby Jones on what would've resulted in a go-ahead touchdown. It's also inexcusable to have a delay of game penalty on the play right after a timeout. Grade: C-plus.

Running backs: It seemed like the Ravens running backs were more productive than the numbers indicated. Perhaps it's an indictment of how bad the running game has been this season. Ray Rice was held under 50 yards rushing for the fifth time in six games (45 rushing yards), and Bernard Pierce finished with 13 yards. They combined for 2.7 yards per carry. Rice has to do a better job of cutting in pass protection. LaMarr Woodley went over Rice to sack Flacco, dropping him for a 10-yard loss and taking the Ravens out of field-goal range. But the backs looked closer to breaking bigger runs with the Ravens spreading out defenses. Grade: C-minus.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Tight end Dallas Clark scored a touchdown for the second straight game. He cut off his route to find the open spot in the end zone Sunday in Pittsburgh. Torrey Smith was quiet for most of the game until he caught a 41-yard pass in tight coverage against Ike Taylor. He's too talented to disappear for those long stretches. Tandon Doss showed toughness in hanging onto the ball after taking a hard hit over the middle. Jacoby Jones only had 32 yards receiving but he got behind the defense for what should have been a touchdown and was open in the end zone (but Flacco couldn't find him because he was scrambling). Grade: B-minus.

Offensive line: It was better than the line's usual performance this year but it was still not a solid performance. The biggest problem was too much penetration allowed on run plays. The Ravens couldn't convert third-and-1 in the first quarter because center Gino Gradkowski and right guard Marshal Yanda got pushed back on a stretch play. Baltimore also failed to get into the end zone on a run inside the 3-yard line for a second straight week. The line only gave up one sack, but it didn't give Flacco much time, especially in the first half. Grade: C.

Defensive line: The Steelers showed no fear running up the middle of the Ravens' defense. Haloti Ngata couldn't get off blocks and Pittsburgh's line had success turning him to create lanes. Chris Canty and Art Jones were nonfactors. Marcus Spears got shoved out of the way on the only touchdown allowed by the Ravens, a 3-yard shovel pass to Heath Miller. Grade: D.

Linebackers: Middle linebacker Daryl Smith delivered another big play, forcing Miller to fumble. He also led the Ravens with nine tackles. Elvis Dumervil made two costly penalties, getting flagged for unnecessary roughness and a facemask on a drive that ended with a field goal. Terrell Suggs had a high-effort game and added his eighth sack of the season. But his one miss on Roethlisberger (Miller redirected Suggs on a late block) resulted in a 19-yard scramble on third down. Jameel McClain made five tackles in his first game back since suffering a spinal cord contusion. Grade: C.

Secondary: This was a strong game for the defensive backs until the Steelers' game-winning drive. Corey Graham's missed tackle of Antonio Brown led to a 13-yard gain and put Pittsburgh in field-goal range. Then, Brown beat Jimmy Smith on a slant for 11 yards and made the game-winning kick that much easier. Baltimore did a fine job not allowing a big play. The longest completion for Roethlisberger was 19 yards. Rookie safety Matt Elam came up with the ball after Daryl Smith forced the fumble. Grade: C-plus.

Special teams: The Ravens failed to properly execute the key onside kick in the fourth quarter, and Jeromy Miles' offside penalty would've foiled it even if the Ravens had recovered it. Baltimore lost the field-position battle, allowing the Steelers to average 32.3 yards on kickoff returns and giving up an 18-yard punt return. A 44-yard kickoff return by Emmanuel Sanders jumpstarted the game-winning drive. Sam Koch only netted 29.3 yards on three punts. The return team nearly gave the ball back to the Steelers when Vonta Leach picked up a short kickoff and fumbled it. Chykie Brown was flagged for offside on a field-goal attempt. Justin Tucker made all three field-goal attempts (46, 38 and 32 yards). Grade: D.

Ravens report card vs. Packers

October, 14, 2013
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 19-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers:

Quarterback: Joe Flacco was once again put in some bad situations by his struggling offensive line and running game, but he didn't help himself out much either. When the Ravens were shut out for the first 40 minutes, Flacco was 11 of 22 for 141 yards. He often held the ball too long in the pocket and his throws were off target in the first half, which has been a trend in the Ravens' slow starts. And I'm not sure why Flacco threw to Vonta Leach and Billy Bajema (three combined targets) instead of Torrey Smith (four targets). Flacco did nearly orchestrate an improbable comeback, stepping up in the pocket and heaving a 63-yard pass on fourth-and-21. It's just tough to forget the hole he dug himself in. Grade: C-minus.

Running backs: Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce each averaged less than 2.5 yards per carry, which has become a weekly source of embarrassment. The worst moment of the season for these backs came deep in the red zone in the second quarter. The Ravens failed to crack the goal line despite Rice getting three runs inside the 5-yard line and Pierce needing one yard on fourth-and-goal. Yes, the running backs are getting hit too often in the backfield. But they also need to be more aggressive hitting the line and figure out how to break tackles. The poor play was limited to the running game. Rice also had a bad drop in the fourth quarter. Grade: F.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Jacoby Jones had a nice showing in his return with a 31-yard catch-and-run in the open field and an 11-yard touchdown grab. Tight end Dallas Clark displayed surprising acceleration on a 45-yard reception and made a nifty one-handed catch in the end zone. This group delivered big plays against the NFL's 26th-ranked pass defense but not enough consistency (2 of 14 on third downs). Torrey Smith, the AFC's leading receiver, was held to one catch for 12 yards. The Ravens need to find a way to always get the ball in his hands. Ed Dickson wasn't targeted once after making a big play the previous game. Grade: C.

Offensive line: Horrible run blocking, inconsistent pass protection and dumb penalties continued an awful season for the offensive line. There was a lack of push in the ground game, which got 43 yards out of its running backs (second-lowest of the season). The Ravens had trouble handling pressure -- and linebacker A.J. Hawk (three sacks) -- up the middle. It was a shaky effort from center Gino Gradkowski, who got a holding penalty against a three-man rush. New left tackle Eugene Monroe got beat toward the end of the first half, which led to Flacco getting stripped from behind and a short field goal for the Packers. Flacco was sacked a season-high five times. Three offensive linemen were flagged for penalties, including two on Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda. Grade: F.

Defensive line: Art Jones is a more disruptive force than Haloti Ngata these days. He's getting penetration in the middle against the run and the pass. Ngata, who injured his elbow early in the game, has a bad habit of disappearing in the second half. This front got moved around too much in the running game (rookie Eddie Lacy had a career high 120 yards rushing). Chris Canty had one tackle. Grade: C.

Linebackers: This group gets mixed reviews. Elvis Dumervil forced two fumbles on two sacks, but he needs to chase after the loose ball instead of starting his dance. Terrell Suggs recorded 10 tackles but he got caught overpursuing, which allowed too many big runs. And Daryl Smith had 10 tackles but he needs to make that interception deep in his own territory. It was a disruptive performance that could've been much better. Rookie Arthur Brown also missed a sack on Aaron Rodgers, who converted the third down by scrambling past him. Grade: B-minus.

Secondary: The biggest mistake was on a 64-yard touchdown pass to Jordy Nelson. Lardarius Webb was expecting safety help from James Ihedigbo on a costly communication breakdown. Safety Matt Elam stopped a drive in Ravens' territory with a hit on Randall Cobb's knee. But he doesn't have the length or size to bring down tight ends like Jermichael Finley, who sealed the win with a third-down catch in the fourth quarter. Cornerback Jimmy Smith made an excellent play to intercept a pass in the end zone and then missed a tackle which led to a 43-yard play. Ihedigbo finished with 10 tackles and made an impact on blitzes. Grade: C-plus.

Special teams: It's been a rough year for punter Sam Koch. He had his second punt blocked this year and had a touchback on a punt from the Packers' 37-yard line, which netted 17 yards in field position. Tandon Doss made a couple of questionable decisions, fielding a punt at his own three-yard line (which he did return for 38 yards) and letting a punt bounce around midfield when he should've picked it up. Jacoby Jones created a spark with kickoff returns of 35 and 30 yards. The coverage team allowed backup punt returner Micah Hyde to average 13.6 yards. Grade: C.

Ravens report card at Dolphins

October, 7, 2013
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 26-23 win at the Miami Dolphins:

Quarterback: Flacco would earn a failing grade based purely on his numbers: 19-of-32 passing for 269 yards and one interception. But Flacco's effort goes beyond the statistics. He took shots throughout the game -- especially from Bryant McKinnie's side -- and kept getting back up. Flacco also hung in the pocket to deliver throws downfield when he knew he was going to take a hit. After he threw an interception for a touchdown (which was more McKinnie's fault), Flacco came back with the key pass on the game-winning drive. Grade: B.

Running backs: Ray Rice scored two touchdowns inside the 5-yard line in the second half, and Bernard Pierce broke a 28-yard run, the longest of the season for the Ravens. There are still some concerns, from another Rice fumble (second in four games this year) to the less-than-stellar 3.3-yard per carry average for the team. But Rice showed power on his first touchdown and elusiveness on his second one. Perhaps the ground game is close to turning a corner. Grade: C-plus.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Torrey Smith is having a Pro Bowl season. He added six catches for 121 yards, or 45 percent of Flacco's passing yards. With only three healthy wide receivers, Tandon Doss stepped up with three catches for 58 yards. Tight end Ed Dickson obviously heard John Harbaugh's critical comments and responded with a 43-yard catch. Grade: B.

Offensive line: If I could put McKinnie in a separate category, he would receive an 'F.' He didn't play with any pride and nearly cost the Ravens the game by letting Dion Jordan hit Flacco from behind, which led to an interception return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. This should be McKinnie's last extended time at left tackle for the Ravens. I was impressed with A.Q. Shipley, a backup center, stepping in at left guard when Kelechi Osemele left with back spasms. The rest of the line had poor moments in pass protection. But the line did wear down the Dolphins enough so the Ravens could control the clock in the second half. Grade: C.

Defensive line: Haloti Ngata set the tone early by brickwalling the Dolphins ground game. A week after this front got pushed back by the Buffalo Bills, the Ravens were the ones who controlled the line of scrimmage. Baltimore held Miami to 22 yards rushing and didn't allow a run over 9 yards. The Ravens were so dominant that the Dolphins abandoned the run game after halftime. Grade: A-minus.

Linebackers: Terrell Suggs is playing at a level higher than anyone else right now. He took advantage of a soft Dolphins offensive line and recorded all three of his sacks in the fourth quarter. Courtney Upshaw was big on run defense and added a sack. Elvis Dumervil had two tackles for losses. Even rookie Arthur Brown made a nice open-field tackle.Grade: A-minus.

Secondary: Why did the Ravens' safeties let receivers get behind them? Rookie Matt Elam froze and watched Mike Wallace go deep for a 49-yard pass in the second quarter. Then, on fourth-and-10 in the fourth quarter, Ihedigbo was more than a few steps behind Brandon Gibson on a 46-yard completion. Jimmy Smith's up-and-down season continues. He needs to find the ball, which is why he got beat by a 255-pound tight end for a touchdown. Grade: D.

Special teams: Justin Tucker hit his fourth career game-winning kick, nailing a 44-yard field goal with 1:42 remaining. He also added three more, including a 42-yarder and a 50-yarder. The return game provided a lift, with Doss averaging 12.5 yards on punts and Deonte Thompson running back a kickoff 47 yards. But what was going on with the usually reliable Sam Koch? He had two 26-yard punts in the first half. The Ravens also have to stop the penalties (John Simon and Anthony Levine were flagged) that affect field position. And no one should ever grab the facemask to get away from a kicker like Thompson. Ever. Grade: B-minus.