Steelers vs. Ravens: Full Roster Report Card Grades for Baltimore
The Baltimore Ravens made it two impressive home victories in a row with their win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Beating the Steelers is always important for bragging rights, but it was critical for the Ravens' playoff chances. With the win, Baltimore currently sits in the second wild-card spot, but the performances of their key players will dictate whether they can stay there.
What follows is an evaluation of every Raven player and a report card grade based on his statistical output and how well he carried out his job.
The most influential player in the game was Justin Tucker, whose five field goals proved to be too much for the Steelers to overcome (barely). With the good, however, there always comes the bad. The disappointing performances were headlined by Michael Oher, who had a terrible game.
Keep reading to see how every Raven stacks up, and get a feel for the pulse of the team and how every positional group is playing.
Joe Flacco: A-
Stats: 24-of-35 (69%) for 251 yards (7.2 YPA), 1 TD, 0 INTs, Pass rating 98.6
Joe Flacco started the game with an underthrown deep ball, but he was very good for most of the game. The Ravens made a concerted effort to attack Ike Taylor and test the Steelers secondary with the deep ball, and it was very effective.
Flacco moved well inside the pocket, extending plays and even scrambling for a first down. The lack of the running game stunted the offense, but the problem had little to do with Flacco (or "Mr. $120" as he was referred to during the game).
Ray Rice: D
Stats: 12 carries for 32 yards (2.7 YPC), 6 receptions for 38 yards
Ray Rice has followed up his huge performance against the Chicago Bears with two unimpressive outings on the ground. He showed some power in his runs, fighting for yards after contact, but he couldn't get anything going against a Steelers defense that has struggled against the run.
The diminutive back made contributions in other ways, however. He was a safety valve for Joe Flacco in the passing game, and he made a number of key blocks in pass protection (although he did whiff on one blitz pickup which led to a sack).
Bernard Pierce: D+
Stats: 9 carries for 35 yards (3.9 YPC), 3 receptions for 4 yards
Bernard Pierce looked more dangerous than Rice as a runner. He picked up a few decent gains, including a 12-yard pickup that was the longest Ravens' run of the game.
Vonta Leach: C-
Stats: 0 carries, 0 receptions
Leach's role on the offense has rapidly shrunk, and he only saw eight snaps against Pittsburgh. He was solid in that limited action, making some blocks in the running game.
Torrey Smith: B
Stats: 6 receptions for 93 yards, 1 TD, 2 drops, 1 false start penalty
Torrey Smith made Pittsburgh cornerback Ike Taylor look outmatched for most of the game. Taylor couldn't keep up with Smith down the field, and the wide receiver ended with an impressive stat line.
Despite that, Smith would be the first one to tell you that he was disappointed in his performance.
He dropped two passes and was called for a false start penalty (inexcusable for a wide receiver who should be watching the ball being snapped instead of listening to Flacco's snap count).
Jacoby Jones: B+
Stats: 4 receptions for 53 yards
Jones has been a big part of the Ravens' last two wins. A large part of his contribution has come on special teams, but the speedster made plays in the passing game too.
What's been impressive about his play is his impact in the intermediate passing game. He hasn't relied solely on deep balls to make a dent in the box score.
That said, he's at his most dangerous when he is making big plays, and Jones made a few critical plays for the Ravens on Thanksgiving night, including a 34-yard reception when Flacco was flushed out of the pocket.
Marlon Brown: C
Stats: 1 reception for 12 yards
Brown saw only one target on a screen pass, but he made the most of it and picked up a first down. He was on the field for 57 snaps, so it was somewhat surprising that he was targeted once, and he will continue to be a large part of the offense moving forward.
Brandon Stokley: B-
Stats: 2 receptions for 27 yards
Stokley has jumped right back into his role as a chain-mover. His two receptions were both on third down, and he converted the play into a first down on both occasions.
His role in the rotation is small, but he's still a valuable receiver who has exhibited chemistry with Flacco.
Dallas Clark: D+
Stats: 1 reception for 8 yards
Neither tight end played a large role in the passing game, and both struggled as blockers. Clark's inconsistent production has been a little surprising since he seems to have good chemistry with Joe Flacco.
Ed Dickson: D+
Stats: 1 reception for 16 yards
Dickson's lone catch was a big one, but he was quite poor as a run-blocker.
Eugene Monroe: A
Stats: 1 QB hurry allowed, 0 penalties
Monroe was excellent. He allowed only one hurry and neutralized the Steelers' pass rush on Joe Flacco's blind side. He didn't excel in the running game, but he was still solid as a run-blocker.
A.Q. Shipley: B-
Stats: 1 QB hit allowed, 1 false start penalty
Shipley played fairly well on Thanksgiving night. He wasn't moving off the line of scrimmage as he had in the past, but he still landed blocks and was solid in pass protection and the ground game.
Gino Gradkowski: B-
Stats: 1 QB hurry allowed
Gradkowski has improved as the season has progressed. He looked much more aggressive in the running game, and his decision-making when it came to making the blocking calls was better than it was to start the year.
Marshal Yanda: C+
Stats: 1 QB hit allowed
Yanda was good for most of the game, but he missed on a number of plays that resulted in bad outcomes for the offense.
He was completely overpowered on one pass rush and allowed a hit on Flacco. He also completely whiffed on blocks in the power running game and on a screen play, both of which went nowhere as a result of Yanda's poor blocking.
Michael Oher: F
Stats: 2 QB hurries, 1 QB hit, 1 sack allowed, 3 false start penalties
Baltimore will probably be able to keep only one of their free-agent tackles, and Michael Oher isn't helping his case with his performance on the gridiron.
Oher was completely outplayed by linebacker Jason Worilds and struggled in every aspect of offensive line play. He wasn't effective in the running game, gave up as many quarterback pressures as the rest of the O-line combined and committed three false start penalties.
Needless to say, it wasn't a good night at the office for Mr. Oher.
Haloti Ngata: A
Stats: 2 tackles (1 solo), 1 QB hit
Haloti Ngata was dominant in stretches, especially against the run, but he hasn't been able to sustain that elite level of play for a complete game this season.
To his credit, he was drawing double-teams throughout the game (like on Le'Veon Bell's 43-yard run) and still managed to make plays in the running game, but he isn't performing up to the expectations that come with his massive price tag.
The Ravens expect him to play like the best nose tackle in the game, and while he hasn't played that well this season, he was still excellent against the Steelers.
Terrence Cody: D+
Stats: 0 tackles
Cody didn't show up in the box score, and he wasn't particularly effective behind the box score either. He wasn't able to generate any pressure on Ben Roethlisberger and wasn't a force against the run.
Arthur Jones: B-
Stats: 3 tackles (1 solo), 1 QB hit
As usual, Jones was very good against the run. He made a few stops in the run game but wasn't able to do too much as a pass-rusher.
Chris Canty: C
Stats: 1 batted pass, 2 QB hurries
Canty was somewhat of a liability in the running game, getting sealed off on multiple occasions, which led to successful running plays for the Steelers. He did make a few plays in the passing game, batting a pass at the line of scrimmage and generating some pressure on Roethlisberger.
DeAngelo Tyson: C
Stats: 0 tackles
Tyson's development was probably one of the reasons the Ravens felt comfortable releasing veteran lineman Marcus Spears. Tyson didn't see much action against the Steelers, but he proved to be a solid run defender.
Daryl Smith: C-
Stats: 6 tackles (3 solo)
Smith's impact on the game is not quantifiable because of what he brings to the table in terms of leadership and intelligence. Moving past that, however, his game against the Steelers wasn't one of his best in the purple and black.
He still made plays all over the field, but he had some trouble shedding blocks against the run, and he also gave up receptions in coverage (Smith's poor coverage was the reason for Emmanuel Sanders' touchdown).
Jameel McClain: B-
Stats: 3 tackles (2 solo)
McClain's role wasn't as large as that of Daryl Smith, but he played well. He was solid in coverage, tackling well and not giving up any big plays.
Josh Bynes: D+
Stats: 0 tackles
Bynes is really a two-down linebacker, and he showed why against Pittsburgh. He's a downhill thumper against the run, capable of attacking the ball-carrier and closing quickly. In coverage, however, he is a liability.
Roethlisberger picked on him when he dropped back into coverage, and it was part of the reason that Heath Miller and Le'Veon Bell were so productive in the passing game.
Arthur Brown: C-
Stats: 0 tackles
Brown's role was very limited, but he didn't make the most of his opportunities on the field. He didn't commit any major mistakes or give up plays, but he didn't look so solid in coverage (which is his strength).
Terrell Suggs: B-
Stats: 1 solo tackle, 2 QB hits, 4 QB hurries
Suggs is going through a dry spell in the sack department, but don't let the stat sheet fool you completely. He was still generating pressure on Roethlisberger (his favorite target) and had an impact on the game. The more disconcerting thing is that he hasn't been his usual dominant self against the run.
Elvis Dumervil: B-
Stats: 3 tackles (1 solo), 4 QB hurries
Like Suggs, Dumervil was also getting close to Roethlisberger but couldn't bring the elusive signal-caller to the ground. Regardless, it was a good performance by Dumervil, who barely missed out on a sack on multiple occasions.
Courtney Upshaw: D+
Stats: 1 solo tackle
Courtney Upshaw's value to the team is his elite defense against the run, but that wasn't on display against the Steelers. He failed to set the edge on numerous occasions and gave up big plays as a result.
Pernell McPhee: C
Stats: 2 tackles (1 solo)
McPhee has looked more comfortable as a 3-4 outside linebacker as opposed to his previous position as a defensive end. He's provided valuable depth for the defense and was once again solid on Thursday night.
Lardarius Webb: B-
Stats: 5 tackles (4 solo), 1 PD, 1 TFL
All the members of the secondary are starting to come together and play way better than they showed to start the season. Webb, in particular, has bounced back from a terrible start to the 2013 season, and he was great against the Steelers.
There were some bad plays on his part, however. He missed a tackle which resulted in a first down for Pittsburgh, and there was miscommunication with Corey Graham on the last touchdown of the game where Graham switched but Webb did not, leaving Jerricho Cotchery wide open for the score.
Jimmy Smith: A-
Stats: 2 solo tackles, 1 PD
Whenever the Steelers went with three wide receivers, Webb bounced into the slot and Smith was usually tasked with covering Antonio Brown.
Smith stepped up in a big way and had another great game. He was excellent in coverage, especially in the red zone and made a couple of tackles right after the catch to prevent bigger gains.
Corey Graham: C+
Stats: 9 tackles (4 solo), 1 PD
Graham wasn't as great as Smith or Webb, but he tackled well and was a factor against the run.
James Ihedigbo: A-
Stats: 10 tackles (4 solo), 2 PD
Ihedigbo has been phenomenal for the defense, and he turned in another spectacular performance. He didn't make any outstanding plays, but he was very solid and played extremely well in coverage. Ihedigbo led the team in tackles and made plays all over the field.
Matt Elam: B-
Stats: 3 tackles (2 solo)
Elam has developed nicely, and his coverage skills have been on display in recent weeks. He made some nice plays and was one of three players to stay on the field for all of the defensive snaps.
Justin Tucker: A+
Stats: 5-of-5 FG (34, 38, 43, 45, 48), 1-of-1 XP
Tucker has been lights out recently and bailed out an offense that couldn't get the ball in the end zone. He won Player of the Game honors and was very deserving of those accolades. The only negative part of his performance was a kickoff that went out of bounds, but he has been playing so well recently that it is only a minor blip on the radar.
Sam Koch: A
Stats: 1 punt for 26 yards, 1 Inside 20
Koch didn't have much work to do other than holding the ball for Justin Tucker, but his lone punt backed the Steelers up inside their own 20-yard line.
Jacoby Jones: A+
Stats: 2 punt returns for 19 yards (9.5 avg), 2 kickoff returns for 104 yards (52 avg)
Special teams were the difference in this one, and it was the spectacular play of both Justin Tucker and Jacoby Jones that broke the game open. He was solid as a punt returner, but his 73-yard kickoff return dramatically flipped the field (and created some controversy in the process).