Mike Preston's report card after the Ravens' 34-23 loss to the Bengals

Quarterbacks: Joe Flacco made some plays by being elusive and moving around in the pocket to gain time. He didn't always have protection and easily could have had two more interceptions on top of the two he did throw if the Bengals’ defensive backs could catch. It was a typical Flacco game. He can make difficult throws look good and misfire on the easy ones. He threw for 376 yards and two touchdowns, but the Ravens offense never got in a steady rhythm. Grade: C+

Running backs: Starting running back Alex Collins didn't get much work against the Buffalo Bills last week, but he had some tough runs against the Bengals. He made something out of nothing several times as he ran around and through would-be tacklers. Backup Buck Allen didn't get a lot of carries, either, but he makes a play or two on third-down situations every game. The Ravens need to get the running game going. They aren't going to win many games with Flacco throwing 55 times. The Bengals aren't the Bills. Grade: C

Offensive line: This group got off to a rough start but had a better second half. The Bengals initially got a lot of pressure up the middle. Once the Ravens closed that off, their tackles had problems on the outside. Left tackle Ronnie Stanley struggled the entire game. Unfortunately, Stanley and right guard Marshal Yanda were the two players on the line the Ravens were counting on to be steady this season. The Bengals had four sacks and hit Flacco eight other times. Grade: C-

Receivers: This group has paid big dividends this season. John Brown has put the long ball back in the offense and has opened up the intermediate passing game. He had four catches for 92 yards, including one for 45 yards. Veteran Michael Crabtree can work the sideline and Flacco has been consistent throwing over the middle to all his tight ends. It's been a good mix for the offense. Grade: A

Defensive line: The group got pushed around and didn't get a lot of pressure on quarterback Andy Dalton. Against a team that throws as many quick passes as the Bengals, the Ravens need to get pressure up the middle. They got very little. At times, the Ravens appeared tired. Overall, the group played better in the second half. The Ravens didn't have a sack. Grade: D

Linebackers: There was no standout among this group. Outside linebacker Terrell Suggs got little penetration, but he did knock down several passes. The Ravens need to discipline outside linebacker Matthew Judon about making stupid penalties. Rookie Kenny Young played better as the game went on, but Patrick Onwuasor, filling in for the injured C.J. Mosley, had little presence even though he finished with eight tackles. Grade: D

Secondary: The Bengals went to receiver A.J. Green at will in the first half. Cornerback Tavon Young couldn't cover Green in the slot and safety Tony Jefferson has problems matching up on the outside with any receiver. Safety Eric Weddle has lost a step through the years and there are times when he gets exposed. The guys in the secondary didn't get much help from the pass rush and some of the problems were from poor technique (see cornerback Marlon Humphrey). Grade: D

Special teams: Kicker Justin Tucker hit a 55-yard field goal and punter Sam Koch averaged 56.3 yards on three punts. But rookie Janarion Grant can no longer be trusted returning punts after he fumbled another one. The Ravens’ punt coverage was fine and they didn't allow any big plays, but coach John Harbaugh might be looking for a new return specialist. Grade: B-

Coaching: The defense got exposed, and this group still has problems playing zone. The Ravens had no answers for the Bengals in the first half. On offense, the Ravens were more wide open than years past, but had trouble finding chemistry. They need to eliminate the trick plays and find a complementary running game. The Ravens seemed lethargic and unprepared to play in the first half, and the clock management and play selection at the end of the game was poor. That might be more of a reflection on Flacco than Harbaugh. Grade: D

mike.preston@baltsun.com

twitter.com/MikePrestonSun

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