Mike Preston’s report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 41-21 loss to Bengals | COMMENTARY

Here’s how the Ravens (8-7) graded out at each position after a 41-21 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals (9-6) on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium:


Third-string quarterback Josh Johnson played reasonably well for someone who had only 10 days of preparation and only one practice with first-team reps. The Ravens did him a favor by staying with the short, safe passing attack instead of going with the long passes and having him go through full progressions. Johnson threw touchdown passes of 4 and 18 yards but also had a costly fumble on third-and-1 early in the game and threw an interception. He completed 28 of 40 passes for 304 yards, which isn’t too shabby for a player who has been with 13 teams in 14 seasons. Grade: C+


Running backs

The Ravens compiled 334 yards of total offense but only rushed for 39 yards on 16 carries. Regardless of what anyone says, the top runner on this team has to be the quarterback, which is why the Ravens miss Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley. Devonta Freeman had six carries for 17 yards and Latavius Murray added five carries for 12 yards. The Ravens had no running game. Zero. Nada. It was that ugly. Grade: F

Offensive line

This was a decent outing considering the last-minute changes on offense. Despite not getting much production out of their running game, the Ravens moved the ball successfully and gave Johnson reasonable time to throw. Right guard Kevin Zeitler had an outstanding game against his old teammates and the Ravens got a good effort from right tackle Patrick Mekari despite him missing the past couple of games with a hand injury. Considering that the Ravens were behind the entire game, the pass protection was much better than expected until late. Grade: C+



Johnson did a nice job spreading the ball around to seven receivers. Of course, tight end Mark Andrews was the standout with eight catches for 125 yards and a touchdown. It’s amazing that opposing teams are trying to cover him with linebackers, even in passing situations. James Proche II had seven catches for 76 yards and came up with some nice grabs on third down. He was tough to tackle after the catch. Rookie Rashod Bateman started the game off strong but disappeared in the second half. The Ravens stayed with a short passing game and that was to be expected with Johnson having limited time to work with this group. Grade: B-

Defensive line

The Ravens held Cincinnati to 77 rushing yards on 21 carries but never controlled the pace of the game. The Bengals had them off-balance most of the time and the Ravens couldn’t get much pressure from their front four. There were times when the Ravens’ defensive linemen got close to quarterback Joe Burrow, but they weren’t under control and allowed him to escape. Calais Campbell played with a thigh injury but looked tight and immobile. He might have rushed his return after missing most of the past two games. Grade: D


The Ravens started the game off strong but inside linebackers Josh Bynes and Patrick Queen wore down in the third quarter. Queen started off strong but couldn’t cover Bengals receivers one-on-one across the middle or down the field. Bynes had problems getting off initial blocks. Both outside linebackers Tyus Bowser and Odafe Oweh were ineffective and Oweh looked tired. The Bengals did a nice job of running right at him. The rookie spent most of the game running around blockers. Grade: F


There isn’t a lot to say about this group anymore. The Ravens were without three starters for the entire game and lost Anthony Averett, a top reserve, in the first half with a chest injury. Basically, the Bengals succeeded with any play in their playbook, including slants and crossing patterns across the middle to receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. By the end of the first half, Burrow was rifling passes against this group like it was a seven-on-seven drill. The Bengals had no respect for the Ravens’ pass defense as Burrow threw for 525 yards, the fourth most in NFL history. Grade: F

Special teams

Sam Koch averaged 44.3 yards on three punts and landed one inside the 20-yard line. The Ravens’ coverage units performed well but they missed Pro Bowl returner Devin Duvernay, who sat out with an ankle injury. The Ravens needed a big return from Duvernay to counter the points the Bengals were compiling while also controlling the clock. Grade: C


It’s hard to put a grade on the coaching staff because they were missing so many players with injuries and COVID-19. Offensively, the Ravens performed well despite only having one legitimate practice to work with Johnson. Defensively, it was the men against the boys and there is no magic formula to remedy that situation. Grade: C