By Mike Preston, The Baltimore Sun
10:50 AM EDT, October 4, 2010
Joe Flacco had his bad moments, but they were few compared to his overall game. In crunch time against one of the best defenses in the league. He had poise and composure. A win like this in Pittsburgh should do a lot for his confidence.
Offensive line: A
Tackles Michael Oher and Marshal Yanda played well one-on-one against two of the best pass-rushing outside linebackers in the league. The Ravens did a good job of recognizing fronts and helping out when needed. To beat Pittsburgh, this group has to play well, and it met the challenge.
Running backs: C+
Willis McGahee was the surprise starter, and he ran strong early in the game. But in the third quarter, McGahee started bunny hopping and tipping through the hole. Ray Rice ran hard when he got in, and fullback Le'Ron McClain averaged 6.5 yards on both his carries. These guys performed well in picking up blitzes.
If Flacco is given the time, very few defensive backs can handle this group. Wide outs Derrick Mason and Anquan Boldin made major contributions, and T.J. Housmandzadeh had the game-winning touchdown, which should keep him from whining for another week. Tight end Todd Heap had several catches, but needs to become more consistent as a blocker again, even though he does well in pass protection.
Defensive line: B
The best player on the field was defensive tackle Haloti Ngata. There were times when he was making tackles downfield on receivers after short receptions. Fellow defensive tackle Kelly Gregg also had four tackles and defensive end Paul Kruger made a solid contribution, especially as a pass rusher. The Ravens, though, did allow some rushing yards inside.
Jameel McClain has outstanding speed, and he showed it Sunday making tackles all over the field. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs finished with four tackles, but he had a strong presence, and often drew double teams. Ray Lewis finished with nine tackles, but appeared to be guessing a lot instead of always being a step ahead of the other team.
Safety Dawan Landry played a strong game and finished with 8 tackles, and came up well in run support. Cornerabcks Lardarius Webb and Fabian Washington both looked sluggish, especially as far as recognition. Webb has great recovery speed or he would have given up a big play or two. Overall, maybe the poorest performance of the year by this group which isn't bad considering how well this unit has played this season.
Special teams: B-
Punter Sam Koch averaged 42 yards on three punts, and still put all three inside the 20 yard line. Billy Cundiff was excellent on most of his kickoffs, but did miss a 46-yard field goal. The Ravens might have to replace Tom Zbikowski late in games if they are behind to get more out of the punt return team. The Ravens allowed a little too much on punt returns, but were better with their kickoff coverage.
An earlier version of this item incorrectly reported the grade for quarterback. The grade is B+. The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.
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