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Mike Preston

Mike Preston’s report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 16-13 loss to Steelers | COMMENTARY

Here’s how the Ravens graded out at each position after a 16-13 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Sunday night’s Week 17 matchup at M&T Bank Stadium.

Quarterback

Tyler Huntley played the type of game the Ravens wanted him to play, throwing safe passes and sticking with the run, but he also missed receivers often. Huntley completed 14 of 21 passes for 130 yards and ran the ball reasonably well with 24 yards on seven carries, but he still needs to learn to avoid hits. This type of passing attack will earn the Ravens victories in most games against weak teams, but it’s not a quick-strike, come-from-behind offense. Pittsburgh rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett could be a problem for the Ravens for years if the Steelers develop a downfield passing game. Grade: C

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Running backs

J.K. Dobbins rushed for 93 yards on 17 carries and had some gains where there were no holes to run through. Gus Edwards had only 2 yards on three carries, as the tandem was not the effective 1-2 punch it has been in recent weeks. Regardless, they (and tight end Mark Andrews) are the only consistent offensive weapons the Ravens have. Grade: A-

Receivers

Andrews had nine receptions for 100 yards and came up with big plays when the Ravens needed them most — except at the end when Pittsburgh started double-teaming him with safeties instead of linebackers. The Steelers weren’t going to give up any big crossing routes over the middle late in the game. The Ravens have few other weapons on the outside, which is why they have one of the most unproductive receiving groups in the NFL. Wide receivers combined for two catches for 18 yards. Grade: C-

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Offensive line

Both tackles — Morgan Moses and Ronnie Stanley — got off to slow starts but were more dominant in the second half. Moses, though, suffered a biceps injury in the fourth quarter and did not return. Many of the Ravens’ rushing yards came off tackle but Baltimore has struggled for years in pass protection and will continue to because this group is loaded with run blockers, not athletic linemen who can do both well. Grade: B

Defensive line

The Steelers ran roughshod over this group, running up the gut against tackles Justin Madubuike, Travis Jones and Broderick Washington. Worse yet, the Ravens failed to keep blockers off inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen. That’s a big no-no in the defensive scheme. Grade: D

Linebackers

Pittsburgh got to Smith consistently on running plays and he couldn’t shed and get off blocks. He had nine tackles but a lot of those were 4, 5 and 6 yards from the line of scrimmage. Queen looked lost at times and also had problems tackling, but the inside linebackers weren’t the only ones to struggle. Outside linebackers Odafe Oweh, Tyus Bowser and Jason Pierre-Paul couldn’t hold the edge as the Steelers had as much success running outside as inside. Grade: D

Secondary

The Steelers didn’t take many chances throwing downfield with a rookie under center and cornerbacks Marlon Humphrey, Kevon Seymour and Brandon Stephens had success coming up making tackles and keeping the ball in front of them. The Ravens were extremely aggressive in man coverage inside the red zone. Grade: B

Special teams

Running back Justice Hill provided a much-needed lift and some explosion in the return game. He took one kickoff 27 yards and another 56. He might not be as sure-handed as James Proche II, but he has the ability to score on a return. In a game that everyone expected to be close, kicker Justin Tucker made field goal attempts of 30 and 51 yards. Jordan Stout averaged 44.8 yards on four punts but needed to angle his last attempt better to pin the Steelers inside the 10-yard line instead of giving them a touchback, which put Pittsburgh at its own 20 to start the game-winning drive. Grade: A-

Coaching

The Ravens were more poised and disciplined than the Steelers and that paid off for awhile. They stayed true to their offense by being conservative and running the ball, but clock management at the end of the first half was poor despite the 10-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Isaiah Likely. Defensively, the Ravens had no answer for Pittsburgh’s running game and they couldn’t stop the Steelers on their 11-play, 80-yard game-winning drive as the final minutes ticked away. Special teams came through again, at least. Grade: C


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