Mike Preston’s report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 17-10 loss to Steelers in regular-season finale | COMMENTARY

Here’s how the Ravens (13-4) graded out at each position after a 17-10 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers (10-7) in Sunday’s Week 18 game at M&T Bank Stadium:


Because of the steady rain, it was hard to throw the ball, but backup Tyler Huntley was misfiring even when he had receivers wide-open. He couldn’t even complete short passes in the flat. The Ravens also didn’t give Huntley a lot of time to throw as he was under pressure most of the game. He completed 15 of 28 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown, but he wasn’t effective filling in for starter Lamar Jackson. Grade: D


The Ravens had receivers open, especially the tight ends, but Huntley failed to find them. In all honesty, this wasn’t a game to feature the receivers, but Nelson Agholor and Laquon Treadwell were open several times over the middle. Tight end Isaiah Likely had the only touchdown, a 27-yard catch over the middle, and Agholor led the team in receptions with five for 39 yards. Running back Justice Hill had three catches for 26 yards and tight end Charlie Kolar also had three for 23. Hill was left alone in the flat several times, but Huntley failed to get him the ball because he was inaccurate or didn’t have time. Grade: C

Offensive line

Tackles Morgan Moses and Ronnie Stanley had trouble handling Pittsburgh’s speed off the corners, but Moses had to block T.J. Watt, one of the best outside linebackers in the NFL. The Ravens had 106 rushing yards, including 40 from Huntley on eight carries. They couldn’t get much movement initially from guards John Simpson and Ben Cleveland. The Ravens were without starting right guard Kevin Zeitler (knee/quad/coach’s decision), who has played well most of the year. This group allowed four sacks and six quarterback hits. Grade: D

Running backs

The Ravens never got the running game going, and that was partially because they didn’t use starter Gus Edwards and Hill full time. They even gave snaps to third-stringer Melvin Gordon III. The running backs had only 66 yards on 17 attempts. Edwards was the leader with 48 yards on 10 carries and Gordon had 18 yards on seven attempts. Edwards’ fumble in the fourth quarter led to a crucial Steelers field goal and Gordon also fumbled early in the second quarter before being banished to the bench. On a day when the Ravens needed a running game, they didn’t have one. Grade: D

Defensive line

The Ravens’ lack of a run defense continues to be a problem and it was especially glaring Saturday because the rainy weather forced both teams to run the ball. Pittsburgh had 155 yards on 39 carries and the Ravens had trouble containing halfback Najee Harris, who finished with 112 yards on 26 attempts. The Steelers did a good job trapping Ravens defensive ends Justin Madubuike and Brent Urban and got outside several times on tosses, especially early in the game. The Miami Dolphins also gave the Ravens trouble with toss plays last week. Grade: D

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The Ravens rested middle linebacker Roquan Smith, and it was a good move because he is irreplaceable. But his absence revealed that they don’t have a thumper inside. Weakside linebacker Patrick Queen looked lost without Smith, especially early in the game. Queen, though, played better near the end of the half, as did Del’Shawn Phillips, who filled in for Smith. Phillips finished with 13 tackles and Queen had eight. Outside linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jadeveon Clowney put a lot of pressure on quarterback Mason Rudolph and each recorded a sack, but the Steelers countered with a lot of quick passes. Pittsburgh also had success running counter plays and were able to get to the inside linebackers. Grade: C


The Ravens turned in a solid effort despite playing without cornerback Marlon Humphrey and safety Kyle Hamilton. Reserve safety Geno Stone also left in the third quarter with a knee injury. This group also got some help from the weather because the Steelers played small ball and stayed with the short passes, but the Ravens will struggle if Rock Ya-Sin stays at cornerback. Starting safety Marcus Williams is also struggling and doesn’t show much speed. He made a poor jump on the ball on that 71-yard touchdown pass to Diontae Johnson over the middle early in the fourth quarter. That was basically the only busted coverage by the Ravens. Grade: B+

Special teams

Jordan Stout was outstanding and might have had his best day as a Raven, averaging 53.9 yards on seven punts, including a long of 66 yards. He consistently pinned the Steelers deep. Justin Tucker converted his only field goal attempt of 36 yards in the fourth quarter, but the Ravens allowed Calvin Austin III to average 18.4 yards on five punt returns, including a long of 34. Rookie linebacker Trenton Simpson had the only two special teams tackles. Grade: B+


The Ravens played hard and were in the game most of the time, and that’s pretty much anyone can ask from a team that didn’t play without their starting quarterback and two best defenders. The best news was that the Ravens came out of the game without any major injuries. Still, there were problems with pass protection and the Ravens once again struggled to defend the run. Those are minor things, but they could become big in the postseason. Grade: B