Mike Preston's report card after the Ravens' 23-16 loss to the Steelers

Mike Preston's report card after the Ravens' 23-16 loss to the Steelers

Quarterback: Joe Flacco never seemed to gain a rhythm and came up short on doing that. Flacco was comfortable throwing in three-to-five-step drop-backs but was timid on anything longer and did not step into the ball. The Ravens needed a big game from Flacco and he did not deliver. The Ravens Lamar Jackson. There are times when he gains yards but times when he holds momentum. Grade: C-

Offensive line: The Ravens had only 268 yards of total release, and they were not consistently good in any area. The Ravens were without starting tackles James Hurst and Ronnie Stanley. Backups Orlando Brown Jr. and Jermaine Eluemunor were serviceable but had problems with Steelers outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree. Flacco was sacked only once but hit six other times. Grade: D

receiver: During the previous two games the Ravens had trouble getting away from opposing cornerbacks and safeties in man-to-man coverage. But that was not a glaring problem Sunday. The more pressing issues were Flacco's inaccuracy. Willie Snead IV had seven catches for 58 yards, and Michael Crabtree had three for 32. The Ravens Mark Andrews, who had three catches for 50 yards. He could become the go-to target in the red zone. Grade: C +

Running backs: The Ravens struggled in the running game again. There are no holes and the starter Alex Collins seems to gain yardage only when he bounces outside. Inside the tackles is like a no-trespassing zone for the Ravens; they can not block well enough to go there. Collins had nine carries for 35 yards and one touchdown. Once the Ravens got stuck on the scoreboard, the running game was no factor. Grade: C-

Defensive line: The Ravens were one-dimensional. Tackles Michael Pierce and Brandon Williams were tough inside the run, but the Steelers were off to tackle Brent Urban and Chris Wormley. Ben Roethlisberger's view of a couple of times. This group gave up too many rushing yards on first down. Grade: C

Linebackers: Roethlisberger except for veteran Terrell Suggs. Suggs did not compile big statistics, but he made Roethlisberger move several times in the pocket. Matthew Judon What's the story? The Ravens' inability to cover running back out of the backfield is no longer a problem; it's an adventure. Grade: C-

Secondary: The Ravens have played their worst two games against divisional rivals Pittsburgh and the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers kept running hitch and crossing routes against them, and the Ravens could not close and make tackles. There were holes in the seams of the defense, and at times the cornerbacks and safeties looked slow and confused. The Ravens could not get the Steelers off the field in third-down situations. Cornerback Jimmy Smith played better than he had in previous games especially in the fourth quarter. Grade: D

Special teams: Justin Tucker converted to three field goals, which is good, but also part of the problem; the Ravens needed to convert some of those field goals into touchdowns. Pittsburgh had only one kickoff but got 31 yards on it. Sam Koch punted four times for an average of 47.3 yards, including a long of 52. For the first time in recent weeks the special teams did not do anything that proved too costly. Grade: B

coaching: The Ravens strategy was not sound for the game. On defense they did not adjust to Pittsburgh's short-passing game especially hitch and crossing routes. They did not try to jam the Steelers or knock them out of rhythm. Offensively, the Ravens can not score touchdowns inside the red zone as they were able to do so when they were winning earlier in the season. John Harbaugh for the loss, and some of it is deserved. But the Ravens had too many injuries to beat a team like Pittsburgh. The only thing they've got for them was a must-win situation, and they did not. Grade: D

mike.preston@baltsun.com

twitter.com/MikePrestonSun

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