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Mike Preston's Report Card

Mike Preston’s report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 24-22 loss to Browns | COMMENTARY

Here’s how the Ravens graded out at each position after a 24-22 loss to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium:

Quarterback

Tyler Huntley’s game is very similar to starter Lamar Jackson’s. He might have better overall arm strength and improvises well with his scrambling ability, but he’s not quite as elusive. He seemed to find a rhythm as the game went on after filling in for Jackson, who injured his ankle early in the second quarter, but Huntley’s two fumbles were costly. One led to a Cleveland touchdown by defensive end Myles Garrett and another stopped a possible scoring drive to open the second half. Huntley gives the Ravens a better chance to win than most backup quarterbacks in the NFL. He completed 27 of 38 passes for 270 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 45 yards on six carries. Grade: B-

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Running backs

Devonta Freeman had some big runs to open the second quarter and gave the offense some life. Huntley stayed with Freeman in the second half too, something Jackson failed to do with the veteran running back against Pittsburgh last week. Freeman rushed 13 times for 64 yards. The Ravens were without injured fullback Patrick Ricard and tight end Nick Boyle, and those absences had a significant impact on the running game. Ricard is the best lead blocker in the NFL, and possibly the best in team history. Grade: C+

Offensive line

The Ravens are solid inside with guards Ben Powers and Kevin Zeitler and center Bradley Bozeman, but their tackle play has been extremely poor. Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva has struggled all season and couldn’t handle Garrett, even with help. Right tackle Tyre Phillips is a true guard but filled in for injured starter Patrick Mekari. Phillips is too slow to play tackle and was outplayed by Browns defensive end Jadeveon Clowney. The Ravens still finished with 389 yards of total offense despite surrendering four sacks. Grade: C-

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Receivers

It took too long for the Ravens to throw deep against the Browns, a problem for the second straight week. When they did, Huntley connected with rookie receiver Rashod Bateman (seven catches, 103 yards) twice down the left sideline and Marquise Brown (five catches, 41 yards) got open several times before being overthrown. Tight end Mark Andrews caught 11 passes for 115 yards, including an 8-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. It’s a shame the Ravens’ passing attack went to sleep for a half. Grade: C+

Defensive line

The Ravens had problems stopping Cleveland in the first half, as the Browns were better at running the ball than they were against the Ravens two weeks ago. Still, the Ravens held Cleveland in check for most of the second half as the Browns finished with 100 yards rushing on 29 carries. The Ravens played without top lineman Calais Campbell, who injured his thigh in the first quarter and was later ruled out. But tackles Brandon Williams, Broderick Washington, Justin Ellis and Justin Madubuike were quick inside and had strong pursuit. They also got some pressure on Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. Madubuike led all linemen with four tackles. Grade: C+

Linebackers

The Ravens had weak-side linebacker Patrick Queen attack on run blitzes up the middle, which worked well two weeks ago but not so much Sunday. Running back Nick Chubb was deliberate and bounced a couple of good runs to the outside. In the second half, the Ravens got strong pressure on Mayfield, especially from outside linebackers Justin Houston and Tyus Bowser, but they didn’t register a sack. Rookie outside linebacker Odafe Oweh had trouble getting off initial blocks but pursued the ball carrier well and made several tackles downfield to prevent any back-breaking plays. Grade: C

Secondary

As expected, this group wasn’t very good because of injuries that have forced three starters out of the lineup. The Ravens struggled against Cleveland’s mediocre receivers, which isn’t a good sign with quarterback Aaron Rogers, wide receiver Davante Adams and the Green Bay Packers coming to town next Sunday. Even in training camp, the Ravens’ cornerbacks kept holding, and they got called for several penalties Sunday — including four in the first half. Cornerbacks Anthony Averett, Chris Westry and Tavon Young settled down in the second half, but they have no acceleration to keep up with receivers coming out of a break. Grade: D

Special teams

Justin Tucker converted on field-goal attempts of 50, 42 and 55 yards and was the only offense the Ravens had in the first half. The Ravens even executed and recovered an onside kick late in the game — their first successful attempt in 20 years — to set up a possible game-winning score. But the Ravens aren’t getting much out of their return game. Maybe the wind affected Tucker on that short kickoff that went out of bounds and gave the Browns possession at the 40-yard line. Grade: B

Coaching

The Browns had a major advantage with two weeks to prepare and they came out with a lot of intensity. The Ravens didn’t match it until the second half. Coach John Harbaugh shouldn’t have gone for the failed 2-point conversion after running back Latavius Murray’s 1-yard touchdown run that cut the deficit to 24-15 with 8:59 left. He should have kicked the extra point and turned it into a one-possession game. Also, the last play call on the slant to Bateman for 2 yards didn’t make sense; it was fourth-and-6. The Ravens not attempting to throw the deep ball earlier in the game didn’t make sense either. The Ravens played reasonably well for a half without their two star players but didn’t get a lot of help from the coaching staff. Grade: C-


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