Mike Preston

Mike Preston’s report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 26-23 OT win over Steelers

Pittsburgh — Here’s how the Ravens graded out at each position after Sunday’s 26-23 overtime victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.


Lamar Jackson had his worst game of the year and the Ravens still came away with a victory, which is quite unusual. Jackson completed 19 of 28 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw three interceptions. He’ll keep the Ravens in just about every game because of his running ability, especially against below-average teams. Jackson finished with 70 yards on 14 carries but he also had a QB rating of 54.9 and threw behind several receivers. Grade: C-


Running backs

Take away Jackson’s 70 rushing yards and the Ravens had only 68 yards on 26 carries. They need to get more out of their running game and get reserve Gus Edwards more carries to help spell starter Mark Ingram II more often. Ingram had 44 rushing yards on 19 carries, while Edwards had 17 on five. They complement Jackson’s outside running ability, but the Ravens need more energy from runs inside the tackles. Grade: C-


Willie Snead IV appears to be an afterthought when it comes to regular playing time, but he is the toughest receiver on the roster. Snead doesn’t have the speed of rookies Marquise Brown or Miles Boykin, but he comes up with a big block or key reception every week. Snead had four catches for 51 yards and got some yardage after contact. Tight end Mark Andrews had five catches for 45 yards and Brown had three for 22, but it remains to be seen whether those two can remain healthy for the rest of the season after they both left the game for some time with injuries. Reserve tight end Hayden Hurst appears to be getting more looks from Jackson. Grade: C


Offensive line

Tackles Ronnie Stanley and Orlando Brown Jr. were effective in the running game, but they had problems with Pittsburgh’s pass rush and outside linebackers T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree. The Steelers dominated inside and kept constant pressure on Jackson, who was sacked five times. The Ravens have gotten a lot of praise for keeping Jackson upright, but he has often scrambled to escape pressure. If it wasn’t for Jackson’s elusiveness, the Ravens offense would be below-average. Against the Steelers, this group struggled most of the afternoon. Grade: D

Defensive line

Nose tackle Brandon Williams was healthy and back in the lineup, and it made a difference as the Steelers had 56 yards on 18 carries, excluding a 21-yard scramble by quarterback Devlin Hodges. Williams finished with two tackles, and fellow tackle Michael Pierce had five. For the next couple of weeks, the Ravens will try to get more of a pass rush out of this group. The line had only one sack against Pittsburgh despite playing against the second- and third-string quarterbacks. The Ravens got some work in for reserve tackle Zach Sieler, who played about eight snaps. He could play more as the season goes on. Grade: C


A major key for the Ravens on Sunday was to be disciplined and not overpursue when the Steelers ran reverses and other trick plays. Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee had a strong game both against the run and the pass, finishing with six tackles and a sack. Middle linebacker Patrick Onwuasor also had six tackles, and Josh Bynes, who joined the team this past week, had five. Bynes also intercepted a pass and gave the Ravens a physical presence on the inside. Rookie Jaylon Ferguson is getting better on the outside but is still too eager to move down the line of scrimmage instead of holding the edge. These guys can’t rush the passer, either. Grade: C


The Ravens’ defensive backs made some strides Sunday, but they could only improve after their past two performances. The Ravens allowed 192 passing yards, and that’s too much considering they were playing against two inexperienced quarterbacks. Cornerback Marlon Humphrey had the play of the game with his forced fumble and recovery in overtime, but even he struggled at times. Safety Earl Thomas III played well in run support but still hasn’t showed that he can play center field. The Ravens also lost starting safety Tony Jefferson for the year with a knee injury, further depleting a unit that is already without two starters because of injuries. The Ravens gave up chunk passing plays of 35, 26 and 17 yards, which disappointed coach John Harbaugh. Grade: C-

Special teams

The Ravens’ coverage teams were outstanding as Pittsburgh returned only one punt for 13 yards and three kickoffs for 42 yards. Rookie Justice Hill also had a 46-yard kickoff return for the Ravens. Sam Koch averaged 51.7 yards a punt and Justin Tucker converted on field goals of 27, 26, 48 and 46 yards, the last winning the game in overtime. Grade: A


Harbaugh lost two challenges after getting bad information from his assistants upstairs in the booth. The Ravens, though, were mentally prepared to play after the debacle last week against Cleveland. The offense struggled, but Jackson continued to bail them out. The defense made some progress but still has a ways to go. The special teams were nearly perfect. Grade: C