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Mike Preston’s report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 28-10 win over Steelers

Ravens Robert Griffin III celebrates with fans after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers, 28-10, at M&T Bank Stadium.

Quarterback

Robert Griffin III made his first start in nearly two years, and he showed that if the Ravens lose starter Lamar Jackson with a long-term injury, their season is in jeopardy. The Ravens were still able to move the ball well and Griffin had a couple of nice runs, but he threw behind receivers and the Ravens only passed for 96 yards. There were times when he held the ball too long. The rain didn’t help, but Griffin didn’t help himself in an audition for other teams with his performance. Grade: C

Running backs

Halfback Gus Edwards played well filling in for starter Mark Ingram II. He showed good burst, acceleration and body lean in rushing for 130 yards on 21 carries. There were times when Edwards punished defenders by lowering his shoulder. Rookie backup Justice Hill (39 yards on 10 carries) had a tough 8-yard touchdown run at the end of the first half and finally showed some elusiveness on a swing pass in the second quarter. The Ravens didn’t miss Ingram much, even though Edwards lost a fumble in the third quarter. Grade: A

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Offensive line

The Ravens had a makeshift group without starting left tackle Ronnie Stanley and right guard Marshal Yanda. Both guards played well, especially left guard Bradley Bozeman. Tackles Orlando Brown Jr. and James Hurst came off well on combination blocks as the Ravens were able to run inside. The Ravens struggled in pass protection and allowed some pressure on the corners. They also had trouble picking up some pressures and blitzes. Grade: B+

Receivers

The Ravens were content to stay with the short stuff, using a lot of quick hitches or out routes. Very seldom did they challenge Pittsburgh down the field, and they really didn’t have to. The running game was effective, but Griffin found a connection with tight end Hayden Hurst, who worked the middle of the field well. Griffin tried to spread the ball around, but the outside receivers had very little impact. Grade: C-

Defensive line

Pittsburgh managed 91 rushing yards, but it wasn’t enough to do substantial damage or force the Ravens out of their base defense. Tackles Michael Pierce and Domata Peko Sr. controlled the inside for most of the game and end Chris Wormley also had a good game. But end Jaylon Ferguson struggled holding the edge and the Steelers went right at him. Ferguson could become a liability in the postseason. He is expected to play with power but has trouble getting off blocks. Grade: B

Linebackers

The Ravens were solid defending the run, and outside linebacker Matthew Judon was consistent getting pressure on rookie quarterback Devlin Hodges. Judon doesn’t win a lot of one-on-one battles, but the Ravens do a nice job of getting him free with stunts or moving him around the line of scrimmage. The Ravens, though, still have problems in pass coverage, and weak-side linebacker Patrick Onwuasor struggled, especially in the first half. Grade: C

Secondary

The Ravens didn’t get challenged much on the back end. It was apparent that Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin didn’t trust Hodges, and the Steelers lack quality receivers. Pittsburgh’s game plan was very similar to the Ravens’, as Hodges threw a lot to running backs and receivers. Cornerback Marcus Peters did give up a 21-yard reception and seemed to lose track of the ball, the second time that has happened this season. Safety Chuck Clark continues to be the unsung hero on defense. Grade: B+

Special teams

Justin Tucker was perhaps the Ravens’ best offensive player, converting on all four field-goal attempts. In poor weather conditions, the kicker has to come through, and Tucker delivered. The Ravens still haven’t gotten much from their return game, even though they have changed returners. It will be interesting to see if coach John Harbaugh makes any changes heading into the first playoff game. The Ravens also recovered a fumbled snap by Pittsburgh punter Jordan Berry for a touchdown. Grade: A

Coaching

The Ravens played hard, and sometimes that is difficult to do when home-field advantage is already wrapped up. But the Ravens stayed true to both their offensive and defensive game plans and outplayed the Steelers despite Pittsburgh needing to win to get into the playoffs. There was no letdown, and the Ravens showed good depth. They came out of the game with no major injuries, and that was a major goal. Based just on sheer intensity, the coaching staff deserves a lot of credit. Grade: A

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