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Ravens Poop Out in Pittsburgh

Lamar Jackson T.J. Watt Steelers
Joey Pulone/Baltimore Ravens
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Reading Time: 4 minutes

In a season full of more head-scratchers than a lice convention, the Ravens’ 20-19 loss to the Steelers left more questions than answers, along with severe reservations about the team’s chances going forward. A fourth straight showing of general offensive ineptitude and possibly two more significant injuries can cause the most half-fullish of us to see things more on the empty side.

Let’s get down to some grades.

Offense

Overall: D

A 16-play, 99-yard, 10:27 drive that resulted in a touchdown was a highlight, as was a final scoring drive of 60 yards in the final seconds of the game to give the team a chance to win a rivalry game on the road. Everything else? Steaming pile of poop. The Ravens only put up 326 yards against a struggling defense, threw a pick in the end zone on their opening drive and stumbled and bumbled their way to a pathetic performance.

Quarterback: D

Lamar Jackson being Lamar Jackson, he managed some impressive things out there, including some big third-and-long throws, and several chain-moving runs. But he is holding the ball entirely too long looking to generate big plays (I’m assuming that’s his motivation, and let me remind you: I’m not smart), and missing too many easy targets, including that final two-point conversion attempt to Mark Andrews. The offensive line is not good in pass protection. Jackson needs to help them with earlier actions.

Running Backs: C

Devonta Freeman looks quicker than he did early in the season, but he still lacks some of that straight-line speed needed to get to the edge or to burst through a hole for longer gains. Still, he is good in open space when he catches the ball, is a willing blocker and runs hard. Latavius Murray also looked good catching the ball and is a load for smaller defenders when he gets rolling downfield.

Receivers: C

Andrews picked up 50 yards on four catches, but had an early drop and wasn’t able to haul in what would have been a very difficult catch on the two-point conversion. Marquise Brown wasn’t able to generate any huge plays, but he does a good job turning upfield this season, and made a big play in that final drive on third-and-14. Sammy Watkins was quiet until the end of the game, and had that big touchdown catch. Rashod Bateman…had a false start.

Offensive Line: D

The Steelers had seven sacks on the day, and you can’t get a number like that without blame to go around everywhere, between the line, the quarterback and the receivers for not uncovering quickly and giving the quarterback a clear target. The injury to Patrick Mekari is scary, and it’s going to impact what this offense can do going forward. There were some good running holes in the first half that seemed to close up some in the second. They weren’t terrible out there — at least not as much as seven sacks might suggest. But they weren’t good, either. Not by a long shot.

Defense

Overall: B-

This was hard to grade, as I thought they did a nice job until the big guys seemed to wear down at the end, and the defensive backs were being eliminated through attrition. The Ravens gave up 321 yards, which is good. They gave up 17 points in the fourth quarter. Not so good.

Defensive Line: B+

I thought Brandon Williams had one of his best games in a long time, and he was credited with 11 total tackles, and one for a loss. Calais Campbell, Justin Madubuike and Broderick Washington all made plays, and they generally controlled the line of scrimmage…until the fourth quarter.

Linebackers: C

Patrick Queen had another active game, and Justin Houston had a big pass-tip on third down to end a Steelers drive. Tyus Bowser and Odafe Oweh did not continue their recent run of terror on opposing quarterbacks, but both fared well against the run. It was a solid performance, but no flash or splash. Hence, a “C.”

Defensive Backs: C-

The injury to Marlon Humphrey (hold your breath, cross your fingers and pet your rabbit foot, or whatever you do for luck) could be a backbreaker, and contributed to the decision to go for two at the end. Tavon Young is playing banged up, so that put Jimmy Smith out on the field a lot, and seemed to put Anthony Averett on the proverbial island quite a bit — probably not the ideal situation for the Ravens to be in. Chuck Clark missed another chance at an interception. Averett missed several tackles, but also made a couple plays out there. Basically, the life of a press corner against dangerous receivers. A bad breakdown cost the Ravens a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and it was frustrating to see that again after a couple good games. Brandon Stephens has become a good player as a rookie. You can see a bright future for him without looking too hard.

Special Teams: B

Justin Tucker and Sam Koch both had nice games kicking the ball, and Tucker nearly pulled off a great onside kick to give the Ravens one last gasp. Devin Duvernay had two solid kick returns, and got fortunate on that crazy bounce on the Steelers’ last kickoff that tumbled its way out of bounds. Kristian Welch and Malik Harrison both had good performances on coverage teams.

Coaching: B

The Ravens had a good game plan on defense, and kind of ran out steam in the fourth quarter. Offensively, there were some serious bouts of stagnation, and the team needs to improve its first- and second-down efforts, and make it a point of emphasis for Jackson to stop taking so many sacks. There are entirely too many third-and-longs. I agreed with the attempt to go for two at the end. The defense was on its heels, and was running out of corners, and the offense was either going to go three-or-out or score a touchdown. The surest bet was to try for two, and they made a great play call to win the game. The players didn’t execute it.

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