Ravens report card: defense

Ravens report card: defense
November 29, 2013, 11:30 am
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Nov 28, 2013; Baltimore, MD, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller gets tackled by Baltimore Ravens safety James Ihedigboand linebacker Daryl Smith during a NFL football game on Thanksgiving at M&T Bank Stadium.

(Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

The defense and special teams again did well and helped the Ravens in their 22-20 victory over the Steelers Thursday night. Here's some grades for the performances of the various units.

DEFENSIVE LINE:  C+. They played the run pretty well, limiting the Steelers to 72 yards rushing and really just one big play. Pittsburgh just couldn't get around Haloti Ngata there. But pass rush didn't do as well. They got some pressure on Ben Roethlisberger, but not enough. And despite getting close to the Steelers QB a number of times, they couldn't sack him. Those were plays that could've changed the game, and instead, the Steelers mounted several long drives.

LINEBACKERS: B+. Just like the defensive line, they did a good job against the run. They also did manage some quarterback pressure, enough to make Roethlisberger run around and extend plays. Elvis Dumervil and Terrell Suggs helped with the pressure, and when they're good in that area, they're both tough and effective. Even better than that was how hard this group hit all night long. They made the Steelers earn their paychecks, and it's probably a safe bet there's a lot of bruises in Pittsburgh today.

SECONDARY: B-. They made a lot of good plays at times. But at other times, especially the fourth quarter, Roethlisberger and the Steelers made things happen in the air too often. There was a mix-up in coverage at the goal line on the late Pittsburgh touchdown, and those things hurt. James Ihedigbo again made some good plays, and Jimmy Smith, Corey Graham, Lardarius Webb and Matt Elam did the same. They just gave up way too much again in the fourth quarter and in the red zone. 

SPECIAL TEAMS: A. Justin Tucker nailed five field goals; that's nine in two games and 27 in a row. Those numbers speak loudly. And those field goals he's making often are from long range, and he's been amazingly consistent there. Plus, the return of Jacoby Jones as a return man has really given this team a boost. He said afterwards that he's getting his bounce back. Well, that bounce is helping the Ravens' offense in so many ways.