Baltimore Ravens: Ravens report card

Ravens' report card at the Saints

November, 25, 2014
Nov 25
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 34-27 win at the New Orleans Saints:

Quarterback: Joe Flacco showed poise against the blitz and proved quite efficient in extending drives. Six of his seven completions on third downs led to first downs. Flacco stretched the field (his 40-yard strike to Steve Smith was perfect) and hit Torrey Smith in stride on underneath routes. Yes, he should've been picked off linebacker David Hawthorne, and it could've been returned for a touchdown. But that was a small smudge on an otherwise strong outing. Grade: B-plus.

Running backs: Justin Forsett broke a 38-yard run on the Ravens' first play of the game and finished of the Saints with a 20-yard touchdown run with 2:53 left in the game. His 182 yards rushing were 52 more than he had ever gained in his previous 97 career games. He ran hard in between the tackles and showed decisiveness in hitting the openings, which led to runs of 20, 24, 35 and 38 yards. Even backup Bernard Pierce had a 26-yard run, his longest one in 19 games. The only negative was fullback Kyle Juszczyk's fumble at the Saints' 1-yard line. Grade: A-minus.

Wide receivers/tight ends: For one of the few times this season, the Ravens were able to get the ball to Steve Smith and Torrey Smith in the same game. They combined for 187 yards receiving. Steve Smith made a fantastic touchdown grab while falling back and getting interfered with to cap the Ravens' opening drive. Torrey Smith was physical in going over the middle to make the intermediate catches. Marlon Brown converted a third down-and-12 with a 14-yard catch. Grade: A.

Offensive line: The right side was dominant with guard Marshal Yanda getting to the second level and tackle Rick Wagner sealing off the backside. Forsett gained 104 yards on the right side and averaged 10.4 yards per carry behind Yanda and Wagner. Left guard Kelechi Osemele and center Jeremy Zuttah also had solid games. Left tackle Eugene Monroe hasn't been the same since he returned from injury, and he was the team's worst lineman Monday. He allowed too much pressure on Flacco's blind side. Grade: B-plus.

Defensive line: The Ravens forced the Saints to stop running the ball, especially in between the tackles. Haloti Ngata set the tone when he stuffed running back Mark Ingram on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line to end the opening drive. Nose tackle Brandon Williams made four tackles and forced a fumble. Chris Canty somehow convinced the officials that Saints left tackle Terron Armstead moved when he didn't, and that pushed back the Saints to the 6-yard line. Grade: B-plus.

Linebackers: All four sacks came from the Ravens' linebackers. Elvis Dumervil had his sixth multi-sack game of the season, and Terrell Suggs cracked 100 sacks for his career. C.J. Mosley led the Ravens with nine tackles and made his first career sack. Pernell McPhee topped the Ravens with three quarterback hits. Courtney Upshaw made a couple of outstanding open-field tackles. Grade: A.

Secondary: Will Hill made the play of the game with a 44-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter. He negated tight end Jimmy Graham with his physical play. The rest of the secondary was extremely shaky. The Ravens gave up five passes over 20 yards, and there were players in position to make plays. Cornerback Danny Gorrer had an interception ripped out of his hands along the sideline, and rookie safety Terrence Brooks gave up a long touchdown because he didn't attack the ball. Lardarius Webb saved a touchdown with an illegal horse-collar tackle, which is important to point out because the Ravens kept the Saints out of the end zone. Grade: C-minus.

Special teams: Sam Koch changed field position with a career-high 59.5-yard net average. Justin Tucker hit a clutch 55-yard field goal in the fourth quarter. Jacoby Jones made a couple of bad decisions when fielding kicks. Kamar Aiken caught the onside kick to end the game. Grade: B-plus.
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 21-7 win over the Tennessee Titans:

Quarterback: Joe Flacco never seemed like he was physically or mentally into the game until his perfectly thrown 32-yard touchdown to Torrey Smith in the fourth quarter. He didn't check out of run plays when the Titans stacked the line, and he continually threw jump passes instead of stepping into his throws. It was a frustrating day for Flacco, who missed a wide open Steve Smith on third down and failed to complete a simple swing pass to Justin Forsett. Flacco really hasn't been on top of his game since that five-touchdown performance in Tampa. Grade: C-minus.

Running backs: Justin Forsett produced his second 100-yard rushing game of the season and averaged 5.6 yards per carry. His best play was on fourth-and-one in the red zone, where he took a pitch and faked out a defender to score a nine-yard touchdown. It was a relatively easy day for Forsett considering he only had to break two tackles. Bernard Pierce took over the backup role after rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro fumbled last week and he did relatively well. He gained 31 yards but still averaged less than four yards per carry. Grade: B-plus.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Torrey Smith caught a long touchdown pass despite being held, but he also dropped a deep pass that was underthrown. The biggest criticism is not fighting hard enough for the contested balls. Steve Smith was a non-factor with three catches for a season-low 17 yards, and he also dropped a pass. Smith was the lowest-rated wide receiver this week by Pro Football Focus. Tight end Owen Daniels had two receptions for 20 yards. The receivers didn't consistently get open. When they did, Flacco was often off target. Grade: C-minus.

Offensive line: It was an extremely uneven performance, but the Ravens did eventually wear down the Titans by the fourth quarter. The interior of the line -- center Jeremy Zuttah and guards Marshal Yanda and Kelechi Osemele -- was strong in run blocking. After losing the battle up front in the first half, the Ravens gained 60 yards rushing in between the tackles in the fourth quarter, the second-most by any NFL team this week. It was easily the worst game of the season for right tackle Rick Wagner. He was called for a false start and got bull-rushed into Flacco for a sack. It was very Michael Oher-eque. Left tackle Eugene Monroe didn't allow a quarterback hurry or hit. Grade: B.

Defensive line: Haloti Ngata has returned to being a playmaker after a couple of down seasons. He forced a fumble at the Ravens' one-yard line and batted a pass down at the line of scrimmage. Rookie Timmy Jernigan is making an impact as well. He had his first career sack (the result of good coverage downfield) and recorded three quarterback hurries. Nose tackle Brandon Williams got pushed around for one of the few games this season, and defensive end Chris Canty was even worse against the run. Grade: C-plus.

Linebackers: Outside linebackers Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs made it a tough afternoon for rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger. They crashed the edges for four sacks and five quarterback hits. Suggs also led the team in tackles. It was a sloppy game for rookie C.J. Mosley, who made five tackles and missed three. Daryl Smith had the first quarterback hit of the game. Grade: B.

Secondary: The defensive backs bounced back strong and they didn't allow a pass over 20 yards for the first time this season. Rookie safety Terrence Brooks made the biggest defensive play of the game with his hit on Titans tight end Delanie Walker. Anthony Levine, a backup safety, made an impressive debut as the Ravens' new starting cornerback. He allowed one pass and broke up two others. Danny Gorrer, who was claimed off waivers last week, recorded only the second interception by a Ravens cornerback this season. The Titans picked on Lardarius Webb the most, completing four passes for 47 yards against him. The Ravens forced three-and-outs on seven of the last nine drives. Grade: A.

Special teams: The Ravens dominated the field-position battle. Sam Koch placed four of his seven punts inside the 20-yard line, including two inside the 10. Jacob Jones had a 45-yard punt return negated by an illegal block by Darian Stewart. Anthony Levine also had a holding penalty on a punt return that pushed the Ravens inside their own 20. Justin Tucker had touchbacks on two of his four kickoffs. Grade: B.
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 43-23 loss at the Pittsburgh Steelers:

Quarterback: Joe Flacco threw in rhythm for a perfectly thrown 35-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith in the first quarter. It was downhill after that. Joe Cool was uncharacteristically flustered. He barely completed half of his throws (12 of 23) against the Steelers' blitz. On third down, Flacco was sacked as many times as he recorded conversions (three). It's strange that he has begun to regress at a time when he should be getting better in Gary Kubiak's offense. His decision-making was extremely poor. Flacco couldn't even throw the ball out of bounds to get rid of it. That mistake resulted in an interception and led to the Steelers' second touchdown. Grade: D.

Running backs: Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro made the game-changing mistake in the second quarter, when he fumbled for the first time this season. The Steelers turned that into their first touchdown, and the Ravens never regained the momentum. Taliaferro ran hard, but it didn't lead to much results (21 yards on seven carries). Justin Forsett was more effective as a receiver (67 yards) than a runner (38 yards). He had some lapses in pass protection. The Ravens managed 23 yards after contact, which was fourth-worst in the NFL in Week 9. Grade: C.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Torrey Smith caught the 35-yard touchdown, but he didn't locate the ball early enough to make a play on another pass in the end zone. No other wide receiver or tight end had a catch longer than 18 yards after Smith's first-quarter score. Tight end Owen Daniels worked the middle of the field, and wide receiver Steve Smith caught some passes underneath. But they averaged eight yards on a combined 11 catches. There were times when Flacco had to take a sack or had to throw it away because no one was open. Grade: C-minus.

Offensive line: Center Jeremy Zuttah had his worst game of the season, which is why Flacco had so much pressure up the middle. Zuttah allowed one sack and was responsible for seven of the nine quarterback hurries. Left tackle Eugene Monroe looked more like a 36-year-old than James Harrison. Monroe had trouble matching the power of Harrison, giving up a sack and two quarterback hits. The right side of the line (guard Marshal Yanda and tackle Rick Wagner) held up much better. The Ravens only averaged 3.5 yards per carry, which was their second-worst of the season. Grade: C.

Defensive line: This was a strong effort from the defensive front. The Steelers averaged 2.2 yards per carry and didn't break a run longer than nine yards. Brandon Williams, Timmy Jernigan and Chris Canty (in his first game back after being sidelined four weeks) were stout up front. Haloti Ngata made more of an impact as a pass-rusher, recording three quarterback hurries. Grade: B-plus.

Linebackers: Inside linebackers Daryl Smith and C.J. Mosley were strong against the run, making nine tackles each. But both were beaten on touchdowns. Mosley had trouble once again sticking with running back Le'Veon Bell, who made five catches against the Ravens' rookie first-round pick. Elvis Dumervil committed three penalties (offside, unnecessary roughness and a neutral-zone infraction), and Terrell Suggs was flagged for unnecessary roughness on a low hit on LeGarrette Blount. Suggs was nonexistent as a pass-rusher. Grade: D.

Secondary: The Ravens' defensive backs were outclassed by the speed and depth of the Steelers' wide receivers. The Ravens didn't show much interest covering the Steelers or tackling them after the catch. Lardarius Webb missed three tackles, and Dominique Franks whiffed on two. Webb gave up seven catches for 105 yards, including a 47-yard touchdown to Markus Wheaton. It was just cruel to line up Chykie Brown against Antonio Brown, who promptly burned him for a 54-yard touchdown. The Ravens were smart to blitz safety Matt Elam instead of using him in coverage. He led the Ravens with three quarterback hits. Will Hill was a nonfactor in his first start. Grade: F.

Special teams: Jacoby Jones set up the Ravens' first touchdown with a 25-yard punt return (his second longest of the season) and then delivered a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Sam Koch placed five of his six punts inside the 15-yard line, forcing dangerous returner Antonio Brown to signal fair catch four times. Justin Tucker hit a 46-yard field goal. Grade: A.
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 27-24 loss at the Cincinnati Bengals:

Quarterback: Joe Flacco was off the entire game. He made bad decisions and lacked touch on his throws. As a result, Flacco completed a season-worst 50 percent of his throws (17 of 34). His struggles stood out on third downs in the second half, when he was 2 of 5 for 12 yards. Flacco missed an open Kamar Aiken deep downfield, and he was intercepted in the third quarter when he forced a throw (the other interception wasn't his fault). Still, Flacco made a great play to elude pressure and strong-arm a throw over 50 yards in the air that would've been the game winner if not for Steve Smith's pass interference penalty. Grade: D.

Running backs: Justin Forsett had his worst game of the season. He wasn't as decisive hitting holes and didn't break a 20-yard run for the first time since Week 1, the last time he played the Bengals. His four yards per carry was his worst average this year. Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro scored two touchdowns from 10 and eight yards. He is solidifying his role as a red zone weapon. Taliaferro also had a 29-yard catch. Bernard Pierce, who? Grade: C-plus.

Wide receivers/tight ends: The only receiver who got repeatedly open was slot receiver Michael Campanaro before he left in the middle of the second quarter with a hamstring injury. Steve Smith was held under 40 yards for just the second time this season. Torrey Smith didn't have a catch for the first time since the 2012 season finale. Aiken dropped a pass at the 1-yard line on fourth-and-goal. With Owen Daniels out, rookie Crockett Gillmore had two catches for 23 yards. He made a bigger impact as a run blocker. Grade: D.

Offensive line: At one point in the first half, it was difficult keeping track of who was injured and who was on the field. Left guard Kelechi Osemele and right guard Marshal Yanda both got dinged up, and left tackle Eugene Monroe took a series off in his first game back from a knee injury. It was a strong return for Monroe, who was the team's best pass protector, and Osmele, who was strong in run blocking. The line did allow six quarterback hurries, including two given up by center Jeremy Zuttah. Monroe's unsportsmanlike penalty after a fourth-quarter touchdown was uncharacteristic. Grade: C-plus.

Defensive line: Haloti Ngata was the best player on the field for the Ravens. He finished with a season-high eight tackles and changed the momentum of the game in the fourth quarter when he forced a fumble on a sack of Andy Dalton. Ngata also made a stop on third-and-goal with about a minute remaining. Backup Timmy Jernigan deserves more playing time after his strong effort against the run. It was the worst game of the season for nose tackle Brandon Williams. DeAngelo Tyson has struggled filling in for the injured Chris Canty. Grade: B-minus.

Linebackers: Inside linebackers Daryl Smith and C.J. Mosley combined for 26 tackles and limited Bengals running backs to 70 yards on 26 carries (2.7-yard average). Smith recovered Ngata's forced fumble and was eight yards short of scoring a touchdown. Elvis Dumervil didn't get a sack but he drew two holding penalties from Andre Smith. Terrell Suggs and Pernell McPhee didn't get much pressure on Dalton, combining for one sack and three quarterback hurries. Grade: B.

Secondary: The defensive backs took turns giving up big plays. Rookie safety Terrence Brooks gave up the biggest play when he didn't get good position on a 53-yard pass in the fourth quarter (which converted a third-and-10). Cornerback Dominique Franks gave up a 21-yard catch on the opening drive, which converted a third-and-14. Cornerback Lardarius Webb allowed three receptions for 73 yards, an 24.3-yard average. Safety Matt Elam missed five tackles. The Ravens can't afford to lose Jimmy Smith (foot injury) for an extended period. Grade: D.

Special teams: Justin Tucker made all three field goals, including two from 50 yards or longer. The Ravens contained the Bengals' return game except for an Adam Jones' 34-yard kickoff return to the Cincinnati 40-yard line. Campanaro didn't do much in his first game as the punt returner. He had two returns of eight and nine yards. Jacoby Jones mishandled a kickoff return, but he was able to down it for a touchback. Grade: C-plus.
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 29-7 victory over the Atlanta Falcons:

Quarterback: It was a situation where Joe Flacco pressed too much because of increased pressure in the pocket, and it almost cost him. He threw multiple interceptions for the first time this season, and he nearly threw a third one. There was also a time when he could've been flagged for intentional grounding. Flacco deserves credit for taking advantage of the Falcons' blitzes. He ran to convert a third-and-one in the fourth quarter to keep the ball away from a Falcons' offense that had just scored a touchdown. In the end, he completed 64 percent of his throws (16 of 25), which included a drop in the red zone. Grade: C-plus.

Running backs: Justin Forsett ran for 95 yards on a season-high 23 carries. He broke a run of at least 20 yards for the sixth straight game, which is the type of explosion the Ravens lacked last season. Outside of that long run, Forsett grinded out 74 yards on 22 carries (an average of 3.3 yards per attempt). Bernard Pierce continues to be the primary ball carrier inside the 10-yard line, scoring a touchdown for the second straight week. But Pierce averaged less than three yards per carry for the third time in five games. Grade: B.

Wide receivers/tight ends: It was like Dennis Pitta was back on the field again as Owen Daniels caught six passes for 58 yards and a touchdown. Four of his receptions went for first downs as the Falcons' linebackers kept losing track of him. Torrey Smith dropped what could've been a touchdown over the middle (did he hear footsteps?), and he didn't fight hard enough to stop an interception in the end zone. Speaking of fights, Steve Smith delivered another big catch, taking a short pass and turning it into a 49-yard gain. But he let his temper get the better of him, which led to a penalty described by referee Carl Cheffers as "unnecessary action upon an opponent." Grade: C-plus.

Offensive line: Undrafted rookie left tackle James Hurst's up-and-down run as a starter hit another dip Sunday, when he was flagged three times for holding. He had trouble cutting off the Falcons' speed on the edge, and he allowed one quarterback hit in addition to his penalties. Rookie left guard John Urschel fared better in pass protection than run blocking. The strength is on the right side, where the Ravens ran for 73 yards behind guard Marshal Yanda and Rick Wagner. Grade: C-plus.

Defensive line: Just like most weeks, teams had trouble moving nose tackle Brandon Williams and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. The Falcons ran for 13 yards up the middle, the third fewest of any team in Week 7. Williams finished with four tackles. Ngata's only tackle was an impressive one. He ran down Devonta Freeman nine yards down the field on a screen pass. Grade: A.

Linebackers: This was the best group on the field as the linebackers took turns making an impact. Daryl Smith had his best game of the season. He led the Ravens with 13 tackles as well as hitting the quarterback once and breaking up a pass. Pernell McPhee, who can line up anywhere in the front seven, had two sacks and forced a fumble in the red zone. Terrell Suggs recorded the first safety of his career, and Elvis Dumervil added two sacks as well as two tackles for a loss. Grade: A-plus.

Secondary: Jimmy Smith was in shutdown mode again, breaking up as many passes as catches allowed (two). The only blemish was dropping an interception that Matt Ryan essentially gift-wrapped for him. Lardarius Webb made several strong tackles, stopping Julio Jones short on third down on the opening drive. He did give up eight catches for 83 yards. Dominique Franks, the team's No. 3 corner, allowed the only touchdown when he didn't turn around to make a play on the ball even though he had backed receiver Roddy White into the corner of the end zone. Darian Stewart had a missed tackle for the third straight week. Grade: B.

Special teams: Jacoby Jones muffed his second punt return of the season. It didn't lead to points because Falcons kicker Matt Bryant hit a 57-yard attempt off the cross bar. The Ravens did an excellent job in containing dangerous returner Devin Hester, who averaged 18.3 yards on three kickoff returns. Hester did have an 18-yard punt return but it was negated by a Falcons' penalty. Justin Tucker hit a couple of 38-yard field goals, and Sam Koch placed half of his four punts inside the 16-yard line. Grade: B-plus.

Ravens report card at Buccaneers

October, 13, 2014
Oct 13
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 48-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

Quarterback: It's going to be difficult for Joe Flacco to perform better than what he did in two of the most critical parts of the game. On third down, he completed 6 of 8 passes, throwing three touchdowns and converting four times. In the red zone, he was 5 of 8 with four touchdowns. His passer rating of 146 was the highest of any quarterback in Week 6 (through Sunday's games). Grade: A-plus.

Running backs: Justin Forsett continues to raise the bar for himself, gaining 111 yards on 14 carries. It was his first 100-yard game since 2009 and it was the Ravens' first 100-yard rusher in 12 games. Fullback Kyle Juszczyk helped jump start the opening drive with an 18-yard catch after going uncovered. Bernard Pierce averaged only 2.1 yards per carry but he scored his first touchdown. Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro broke one of his two carries for a 25-yard gain. Grade: A.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Torrey Smith scored touchdowns on his first two catches. Steve Smith recorded his fourth 100-yard games in 2014, tying Mark Clayton (2006) and Michael Jackson (1996) for most in Ravens' single-season history. Kamar Aiken and Michael Campanaro scored their first career touchdowns. How much did Flacco spread around the ball? There were eight players who caught at least two passes. Grade: A.

Offensive line: It's a strong day for any offensive line when the running backs average 5.5 yards per carry and Flacco doesn't get sacked (or hit, for that matter). It's an exceptional day when that line accomplishes this with two rookies on the left side of the line. Offensive tackle James Hurst and guard John Urschel did more than hold their own. Forsett's 52-yard run was keyed by Hurst's cut block and Urschel getting to the second level, which sealed off the backside and opened up the big running lane. Grade: A.

Defensive line: Nose tackle Brandon Williams and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata stonewalled the inside runs. Williams finished with five tackles (tied for third on the team) and had a half sack. Ngata had three tackles and a quarterback hit. Grade: A.

Linebackers: Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon won't soon forget the Ravens' linebackers. They combined for 4.5 sacks and 11 quarterback hits. C.J. Mosley and Terrell Suggs totaled seven quarterback hits. Pernell McPhee has recorded sacks in consecutive games. Grade: A.

Secondary: Cornerback Jimmy Smith became the Ravens' first defensive back to intercept a pass. Free safety Darian Stewart should've had the second but he dropped it. Dominique Franks got picked on and looked like a cornerback who hadn't played a game this season. Strong safety Matt Elam was beaten on a 3-yard touchdown pass. Still, the Bucs converted only 2 of 12 third downs. Grade: C-plus.

Special teams: Jacoby Jones broke his longest kickoff return of the season with a 58-yarder in the fourth quarter. Justin Tucker converted from 46 and 49 yards. His 64-yarder was blocked. Sam Koch's first punt resulted in a touchback and his other one was downed at Tampa Bay's 9-yard line. Grade: B-plus.
Grading the Baltimore Ravens in their 20-13 loss at the Indianapolis Colts:

[+] EnlargeJoe Flacco
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesIn Week 5, Joe Flacco and the Ravens fell short in their attempt at winning their fourth straight game.
Quarterback: Like many quarterbacks, Joe Flacco isn't the same passer when he's always throwing with a pass-rusher in his face. It was tough for Flacco to get into any rhythm because he was getting harassed from his blind side. His best play was throwing a 26-yard pass to Justin Forsett when he was wrapped up by an outside linebacker. Flacco had a 14.8 passer rating on third downs, the worst of any quarterback on Sunday. His interception was the result of throwing behind Torrey Smith. That turnover led to the Colts' first touchdown. But Flacco nearly led another last-minute comeback. Grade: C.

Running backs: The Ravens averaged an impressive six yards per carry. They would've had more than 90 yards rushing if they could've converted on makable third downs. The offense just didn't possess the ball enough. Forsett had a 29-yard run and rumbled 11 yards for another touchdown. Bernard Pierce looked like a back wanting more playing time with 30 yards on four carries. Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro was underused, finishing with 18 yards on five carries. Grade: B.

Wide receivers/tight ends: Torrey Smith had only three catches despite being the Ravens' most targeted receiver (eight passes thrown his way). His drop on the Ravens' final play extended a frustrating season. Steve Smith had an emotional letdown from the Carolina reunion, fumbling once and having another pass stripped. Tight end Owen Daniels was productive down the seam, catching five passes for 70 yards (including a fourth-down conversion on the last drive). Jacoby Jones has something to build from after making one catch for 30 yards. Did anyone see Marlon Brown? Grade: D.

Offensive line: Flacco was sacked more times in this game (four) than his previous four games combined (three). Left tackle James Hurst was beaten for three of them in his second career start. It was bizarre that the Ravens didn't give the undrafted rookie more help. The Ravens line did open some good running lanes, but they struggled to get push in short-yardage situations. They went 0-for-3 on third and fourth downs with two or fewer yards needed to convert them. Grade: C-minus.

Defensive line: Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata got his second interception of the season, which leads the team (not something to brag about). He also knocked down another pass. Nose tackle Brandon Williams was solid inside and even had a quarterback hit. The Ravens did miss Chris Canty, who was sidelined with an illness. DeAngelo Tyson, who made his first start of the season, made a quiet five tackles. Grade: B.

Linebackers: Rookie inside linebacker C.J. Mosley had a breakout game with 15 tackles, one interception (at the goal line) and one quarterback hit (which led to Ngata's interception. Inside linebacker Daryl Smith is showing his age. He's not the impact player from a year ago, especially in the run game. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs was not at full strength and finished with two tackles. Elvis Dumervil looks out of sorts in pass coverage. Pernell McPhee has been the Ravens' best pass-rusher the past two weeks and recorded the team's only sack. Grade: C.

Secondary: This group played better than expected, and it should've been worse considering the time the Ravens gave Andrew Luck in the pocket. Cornerbacks Lardarius Webb and Asa Jackson were picked on, but they weren't burnt for big plays. The Ravens held Luck to 6.4 yards per attempt, his second lowest of the season. The secondary didn't allow a touchdown. Strong safety Matt Elam forced a fumble at the Ravens' 10-yard line late in the fourth quarter, which gave the Ravens one last chance to tie the game. Grade: C.

Special teams: Justin Tucker hit two field goals, including one from 52 yards. Sam Koch placed three of his five punts inside the 20-yard line and netted 47 yards (his second best of the season). Chykie Brown forced a fumble on a punt, which negates the muffed punt return by Jacoby Jones, who continues to press. The coverage teams were strong. Grade: B.

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.