Mike Preston's Report Card



Joe Flacco had one of his best games. The most impressive part was his footwork in the pocket. When the Steelers got pressure, Flacco bought time by stepping up or moving around in the pocket. It might have been his most complete game of the year.



The Ravens didn't run for a lot of yardage but both Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce ran hard. Rice even ran over Pittsburgh free safety Ryan Clark in the third quarter. There were several times when Pierce had nothing inside and bounced outside for a few yards.



It wasn't a dominant performance, but it has been an upgrade over recent weeks. The Ravens still have to become better run blockers and Flacco helped out this group by escaping a lot of pressure. Tackle Michael Oher was horrendous with three illegal procedure penalties going into the fourth quarter.



Pittsburgh has given up a lot of big plays this season and the Ravens took advantage of the cornerbacks, particularly Ike "Not So Tough Guy" Taylor. Taylor couldn't stop Torrey Smith. Jacoby Jones had three catches for 50 yards by the third quarter.



The entire defense played with a lot of intensity. Haloti Ngata and Arthur Jones were dominant up front for three quarters and got solid relief from backup Pernell McPhee. End Chris Canty had a presence at times, but there are times when he disappears. The Ravens have to get more pressure with their front four, and this group wore down in the fourth period.



Outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervill brought their A games and kept constant pressure on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Suggs was very patient in playing the run for the first time in recent weeks and fellow outside linebacker Courtney Upshaw was just as physical. Inside linebackers Jameel McClain and Daryl Smith didn't slide early which is why the Ravens contained Pittsburgh rushing attack for most of the game.



Cornerbacks Lardarius Webb, Corey Graham and Jimmy Smith played well until the fourth quarter. Until then, the only time they gave up plays was when Roethlisberger moved in the pocket and extended plays. There isn't much they can do about that. But the Ravens safeties, particularly Matt Elam, have to get better especially providing help over the top. The Ravens have to play a tighter zone inside their own 20.



As a returner, Jones has become effective again, so much that the Steelers started kicking away from him in the fourth period. Jones is instant offense. Kicker Justin Tucker remains the Ravens most consistent offensive weapon, and hit a 48-yard field goal attempt with 5:37 left in the game. That was big at that point giving the Ravens an eight-point advantage.



The Ravens started off the game and played with great intensity. Head coach John Harbaugh had his team ready to play. Offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell took advantage of Pittsburgh's struggles against the long ball and defensively the Ravens kept Roethlisberger in check for most of the game.



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