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Mike Preston’s report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 24-17 win over Bills

Here’s how the Ravens graded out at each position after Sunday’s 24-17 win over the Buffalo Bills.

Quarterback

Lamar Jackson was held in check for most of the game even though he threw three touchdown passes. Buffalo crammed the line of scrimmage to shut down the run and forced Jackson to throw in some windy conditions. He was good enough to win, but was off the mark and made some poor decisions. Sometimes it’s good to eat the football or throw it away. The 61-yard touchdown pass to tight end Hayden Hurst was a gem. Grade: C

Running backs

The Ravens ran 33 times for 118 yards, but that is misleading because there were times when Jackson scrambled out of the pocket because of pressure. Halfback Mark Ingram II ran hard, as usual, and finished with 50 yards on 15 carries. Backup Gus Edwards had four carries for 20 yards and did a nice job filling in for Ingram. The Ravens, though, got away from the running game at times, especially in the first half when they were pounding the Bills inside the tackles. Grade: B-

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Receivers

Hayden Hurst did a good job replacing injured Mark Andrews (knee) as the starting tight end and had three catches for 73 yards, including a 61-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. Hurst showed great speed on the play, running away from the safeties and cornerbacks. The Ravens didn’t get much out of their receivers again, but the weather didn’t help. Overall, this group bailed out Jackson a couple of times because several of his passes were off the mark, usually sailing high. The Ravens finished with 145 receiving yards. Grade: C

Offensive line

The Bills had only one sack, but they hit Jackson six other times and the Ravens had to move him out of the pocket a lot in the second half. Rookie center Patrick Mekari struggled with tackles Jordan Phillips and Star Lotulelei in the middle of the field, and that’s a key battle for downhill runners like Ingram and Edwards. Teams with athletic fronts give the Ravens problems, and Baltimore struggled to move the Bills off the ball, especially in the second half. Grade: C-

Defensive line

Except for the second quarter, when the Bills decided to run off tackle and had success, the Ravens controlled the line of scrimmage. The Ravens overloaded the box and brought pressure up the middle and finished with six sacks. The Bills couldn’t handle Jaylon Ferguson (one sack, three quarterback hits) and Patrick Onwuasor off the edge. The Bills had only 104 rushing yards, including a 38-yard run by rookie Devin Singletary. A positive sign for the Ravens is that their linemen are hustling and pursuing runners across the field. Grade: A-

Linebackers

Outside linebacker Matthew Judon dominated Buffalo with his pass rush in the first half and was constantly in the face of quarterback Josh Allen. Judon finished with 1½ sacks, two quarterback hits and a forced fumble on a strip-sack. The Ravens were just as tough on blitzes up the middle from L.J. Fort (one sack, one QB hit), Josh Bynes and Onwuasor when he went to the weak-side position. This group made up for its poor performance against the 49ers last week. Grade: A

Secondary

The Ravens gave up just one passing touchdown, but the Bills receivers had no trouble getting open. If Allen was more accurate, he might have thrown for three scores. The Bills got open in the middle of the field several times, and the Ravens were slow to react. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey had a strong game, but even he appeared a little sluggish. Fellow cornerback Jimmy Smith is more content to keep things in front of him than being aggressive, and there wasn’t much safety help in the middle of the field on passing plays. Grade: C

Special teams

Overall, the coverage on kickoffs was pretty good, as the Ravens held the Bills to an average of 20 yards on four returns. Punter Sam Koch had a decent game considering the windy conditions, averaging 44.1 yards on seven punts and hitting two inside the 20. Justin Tucker made a 36-yard field goal, and Fort had two special teams tackles. Grade: B+

Coaching

Buffalo, like San Francisco last week, seemed to catch up with the Ravens offense in the second half. More teams are getting their linemen to penetrate deeper up the field, forcing Jackson further back on option plays. So far, the Ravens have no counter. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman needs to get more out of his receivers. Defensively, the Ravens overwhelmed the Bills with their pressure packages, but the secondary looked lost for most of the game. And it just wasn’t in coverage. How many more times will the Ravens have too many defensive players on the field? Grade: C

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