By Samuel Njoku
The Ravens and Steelers clashed in another epic battle in Pittsburgh. But the Baltimore Ravens fell short 16-13 as Pittsburgh hit a game-winning field goal as time expired. The bye week couldn’t come at a better time for a Ravens team with a plethora of issues to deal with.
Offense Grade: C+
The Baltimore Ravens have struggled on offense to get anything going on a consistent basis. The primary reason for the inconsistency rests with the play of the offensive line. While their play against Pittsburgh wasn’t perfect, it was definitely a step in the right direction. Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau hasn’t been living under a rock for the past two months and therefore was fully aware of the Ravens line issues. He made it a point to challenge the Ravens front with delayed blitzes and crashes to either side of the line of scrimmage. There were times when Pittsburgh got the pressure they were looking for, but the line held up well.
Ray Rice finished the day with only 45 yards as Baltimore is still having problems with opening running lanes. But Rice isn’t beyond criticism himself. He’s done a poor job of hitting the hole when it is available and continues to dance in the backfield. Bernard Pierce hasn’t played much better which has led to the poor performance overall on the ground for the Ravens.
Defense Grade: D+
It was a low scoring affair for these two rivals but the score doesn’t tell the whole story. The Ravens front seven was dominated by the Steelers supposedly inferior front from start to finish on Sunday. Give credit to Steelers OC Todd Haley for finding a way to move the ball against a Ravens defense that has been the sole bright spot for the defending champions. Pittsburgh ran the ball down Baltimore’s throat and controlled the time of possession in the process. Joe Flacco and the Raven’s offense only had seven possessions throughout the entire game. They scored on four of them. The Ravens defense couldn’t get off the field and give Flacco more opportunities to put points on the board. That in a nutshell was the story of the game.
Quarterback Grade: C+
As previously mentioned, Flacco didn’t get a lot of possessions to work with in this contest. But when given the opportunity, he was able to make some plays for the football team. Joe made sure to spread the ball around and get all of his receivers involved. He was poised in the pocket because of the extra time he received from his offensive line. And whenever the pocket collapsed, he was able to make plays with his legs to extend drives. The one play that Flacco would love to have back is the pass that was underthrown to a wide open Jacoby Jones deep down the field. It could have been the difference in the ball game.
Special Teams Grade: B+
Justin Tucker was 3-for-3 in field goals for Baltimore and kept the Ravens in the ball game until the very end. Of course the play that Ravens fans will be talking about for the next couple of weeks will be the onside kick attempt called by Coach John Harbaugh and the special teams unit. It was the right call considering the play of the defense at the time. But the failed attempt guaranteed Pittsburgh three points and would end up being the difference in the game.
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Samuel Njoku was born and raised in Baltimore, MD and is a graduate of the University of Maryland Eastern Shore. Samuel has covered the Ravens for Examiner.com since 2010. Prior to 2010, Samuel was an avid blogger and radio personality in Salisbury, MD. Samuel Njoku is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @Ravens_Examiner.