Mike Preston's Ravens report card

Quarterbacks: This was the most composed Joe Flacco has ever been against Pittsburgh. He made some really tight throws over the middle and was patient going through his progressions. Even when he had a couple of bad throws, Flacco regrouped quickly. He wouldn't want to admit it, but the win and the way he played does a lot for his confidence and his teammates' confidence in him. Flacco finally challenged the Steelers in the middle of the field, and he won. Grade: A

Running backs: Halfback Ray Rice set the tone by gaining 36 yards on his first carry. Unlike a year ago, Rice wasn't hesitant in making cuts. He didn't wait for cutback holes, but exploded through them. As a group, the running backs did a good job of picking up pass rushers, especially off the edge. The Steelers couldn't handle Rice one on one. In Pittsburgh, there will be a lot of sore Steelers today thanks to fullback Vonta Leach. He is a train wreck. Grade: A

Offensive line: The turnaround by this group in less than two weeks of working together is incredible. It takes most groups three to four games to develop the chemistry the Ravens showed Sunday. Tackles Michael Oher and Bryant McKinnie played well, and Oher made Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley disappear from the game. Midway through the third quarter, guards Ben Grubbs, Marshal Yanda and center Matt Birk had started to grind down the Steelers. Rice finished with 107 yards rushing. Grade: A

Receivers: Anquan Boldin led the Ravens with seven recptions for 74 yards, including one touchdown. The Ravens were smart in isolating young tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta out in space with Pittsburgh's linebackers. Dickson had five catches for 59 yards and Pitta had two for 45. Speedy receiver Lee Evans didn't have a catch, but he was an effective decoy. Grade: B+

Defensive line: Tackle Haloti Ngata was the best lineman on the field. When the Ravens watch film today, they'll see that Ngata made even more of an impact than what was seen on the field. Ngata controls his side of the field and is such an intimidating force. As a group, the Ravens didn't collect a lot of tackles, but Pittsburgh had no running game (66 yards). When the Steelers tried to run early, defensive end Cory Redding and tackle Terrence Cody played well after a slow start in the first quarter. The Ravens did a nice job of keeping Ben Roethlisberger in the pocket. Grade: A

Linebackers: Ray Lewis still plays tackle-to-tackle extremely well, and he is very proficient at ducking and sliding off blocks. The Ravens constantly harassed Roethlisberger. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had three sacks, and was close to a couple more. The Ravens also got a lot of pressure from outside linebacker Jarret Johnson, who made a lot of his teammates happy by decking Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward. Nice shot. Grade: A

Secondary: Lardarius Webb punished receivers after catches and quite a few times separated them from the ball. Safety Ed Reed had two interceptions, but he better be careful dropping his head and neck on tackles. Webb finished with 11 tackles and Reed had five. Cornerback Cary Williams had a strong performance. The Ravens spent most of the second half allowing Pittsburgh to work the underneath stuff, but not allowing anything deep. Grade: B+

Special teams: The Steelers averaged 34.3 yards on three kickoff returns, which is way too much. Webb was shaky returnning punts. He may have lost them in the sun, but there were a couple of times he should have made fair catches. Billy Cundiff converted on field goals of 29 and 30 yards. Grade: B

Coaching: The Ravens were ready to play, and Pittsburgh didn't match their intensity. Defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano called a good game, but might want to reconsider on the three-man rush inside the red zone. Offensively, the Ravens had Pittsburgh off balance, and the Ravens took advantage of the Steelers' linebackers in space. The Ravens played so well that expectations will be high for the rest of the season. But if the Ravens had lost, it would have been a much bigger hill to climb. Grade: A

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