Admittedly, this wasn’t the best match-up because the Steelers’ boast the NFL’s best passing defense. Still, Joe Flacco looked horrendous, especially in the second half, as he had one of his worst games of the season.
Flacco was outplayed by Charlie Batch, just as he was by Byron Leftwich two weeks ago. He had more turnovers than touchdowns and threw for under 200 yards for the fourth time in six games.
Flacco is officially the worst quarterback in the league on passes of 11 or more yards downfield, as he is now completing under 40 percent of those passes. He again missed a ton of deep throws this week, as they continuously took deep shots.
The only reason this grade isn’t an F is because of the touchdown pass Flacco threw to Anquan Boldin. It was a beautiful pass down the left sideline that resulted in the only passing touchdown of the game for the Ravens.
However, that touchdown was one of the few balls Flacco put on the money all game, so it was another below average grade in an inconsistent season for Flacco.
Running Backs: A
The running backs were by far the best part of the offense against the Steelers as Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce combined for 20 carries for 112 yards. That average of 5.6 yards per carry was one of the best the Ravens have had against the Steelers’ defense in recent memory.
Rice had 78 of those 118 yards, but had only 12 carries, so shame on Cam Cameron. Rice had a 34-yard touchdown run on a play that appeared to be stacked up at the line, but he bounced it outside and scampered for the touchdown.
Rice inexplicably did not get a single touch in the fourth quarter when the Ravens had a chance to salt the game away with a seven-point lead. Cameron has fallen in love with the deep ball and neglected pounding Rice in a big game with a lead in the fourth quarter.
Pierce, meanwhile had eight carries, so he got a pretty big workload relative to Rice’s 12 carries.
Thus, you can’t fault the running backs for a lack of touches, so they deserve an A based on the limited amount of carries they did get.
Wide Receivers: C+
After the receiving corps’ best overall game of the season, this group came back down to Earth.
Anquan Boldin rose to the occasion as he usually does in nasty, defensive battles. He led the team with five catches for 81 yards and also scored the Ravens’ only touchdown through the air.
Boldin was by far the best pass-catcher in the season series against the Steelers, as he does not shy away from battles against defenses like Pittsburgh’s.
The same cannot be said for Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones because they tend to shy away from physical games. That was again the case against the Steelers as they combined for just four catches for 38 yards. That total was less than fullback Vonta Leach had, so it was definitely a disappointment.
Tight Ends: F
The tight ends have mirrored the receivers, and moreover Flacco, so it was another bad day from then.
After showing some life in the last couple of weeks, this unit was all but invisible. Dennis Pitta had one catch while Ed Dickson did not play. Dickson played last week, but did not even register a targeted pass.
In a game where Heath Miller starred for the Steelers, it only put a more of a spotlight on the lack of production from the Ravens’ tight ends.
Offensive Line: B-
The line was solid in run blocking as the 5.3 yards per carry average will tell you. Those numbers were a little skewed by Rice’s 34-yard touchdown that started after he was knocked back into the backfield. Nonetheless, it was a much better effort for the line this time around against the Steelers’ top-ranked defense.
Despite allowing three sacks, the pass protection was also slightly above average. Only 11 yards were lost from those three sacks, while the line gave Flacco ample time to air out useless deep passes that usually found nobody.
Overall, the line play was better than average and they bounced back nicely after a lackluster effort against the Steelers two weeks ago.