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Mike Preston's Report Card

Mike Preston’s report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 27-16 loss to Bengals | COMMENTARY

Here’s how the Ravens graded out at each position after a 27-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals in Sunday’s Week 18 matchup at Paycor Stadium.

Quarterback

Third-stringer Anthony Brown was tight in the first half but got better as the game went on, making several big league throws in the second half. However, his two interceptions and fumble led to three Bengals touchdowns, and several of his passes were deflected at the line of scrimmage. He also threw a pass that was nearly picked off by Bengals linebacker Logan Wilson near the goal line. Brown, who completed 19 of 44 passes for 286 yards, definitely needs more pocket awareness. Grade: D

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Running backs

Starting halfback Gus Edwards left the game late in the first quarter with a head injury. His replacement, Kenyan Drake, actually fit in well as his cut-back style was effective against Cincinnati’s defensive front that got a lot of penetration. But overall, the Ravens couldn’t dominate and control the pace with the running game. Drake had 16 carries for 60 yards, Justice Hill had seven carries for 34 yards and Edwards had four carries for 16 yards. Grade: C

Offensive line

Right guard Kevin Zeitler was the only missing starter so it was surprising that the left side of the line — tackle Ronnie Stanley and guard Ben Powers — struggled. It looked as if Stanley had trouble planting with his ankle and pass blocking. This group gave Brown little time to throw, both inside and outside of the pocket. The Ravens allowed four sacks. Grade: C-

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Receivers

This is basically all you need to know about this group: No receiver caught a pass until there was 3:18 left in the third quarter. The Ravens got some plays from rookie tight end Isaiah Likely, who had eight catches for 103 yards, but the receivers were only used on slants and only contributed on busted plays. These receivers have no speed, can’t catch and can’t hold onto the ball. They didn’t do Brown any favors. Grade: D

Defensive line

The Ravens gave up 27 points but their defense, particularly the front seven, played well. They got consistent pressure on quarterback Joe Burrow, who was elusive and escaped the pocket several times. The Ravens held the Bengals to 55 rushing yards. When Burrow stepped up in the pocket, there was nowhere for him to go. Overall, a strong rebound performance from a week ago against the Steelers. Grade: B+

Linebackers

Middle linebacker Roquan Smith played his worst game as a Raven against Pittsburgh last week but he made up for it against the Bengals. He had 16 tackles (12 solo) and was all over the field in both run and pass defense. Weak-side linebacker Patrick Queen had five tackles and outside linebackers Odafe Oweh, Justin Houston and Jason Pierre-Paul got pressure on Burrow. Grade: A-

Secondary

The cornerbacks need to come up and do a better job tackling, especially on short passes, but the Ravens made the Bengals receivers pay for some of Burrow’s flutter balls he threw in the intermediate and deep areas of the field. Safety Marcus Williams and cornerback Marlon Humphrey had seven tackles apiece. This group will be tested more next week when the Bengals stretch the field a little more. There were several receivers open deep down the field in the first half when Cincinnati’s offense was more wide-open. Grade: B

Special teams

Justin Tucker converted on field three field goal attempts, including a long of 51 yards. Rookie punter Jordan Stout averaged 45.7 yards on his three punts but needs to be more consistent. His first punt was only 34 yards and he wasn’t trying to land it inside the 20-yard line. The Ravens needed a lift from the return game but didn’t get much from James Proche II or Hill, though Hill averaged 25.5 yards on two kickoff returns. The Bengals are slow getting punts off and the Ravens might be able to block one next week. Grade: B

Coaching

The offense was serviceable, despite four turnovers, considering the Ravens were playing a third-string quarterback and were without Zeitler and tight end Mark Andrews. The defense played well but the clock management on this team is not good. The play selection at the end of the first half also led to Brown fumbling in the end zone and a Bengals touchdown. The offensive play calling gets too cute at times instead of going with what is simple and expected. If the Ravens want to win next week, the coaching staff needs to bring its “A” game. Grade: C


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