Ravens report card: Defense/special teams

Ravens report card: Defense/special teams
October 21, 2013, 10:30 am
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Suggs says Ravens in 'state of emergency'

The defense struggled again in Sunday's 19-16 loss in Pittsburgh against a team that's had its own problems on offense. But the Steelers were able to move the ball on the ground, holding the ball for long stretches, a big reason they pulled out the win. Here's this week's report card:

DEFENSIVE LINE: D+

They just couldn't get it done in this game. The Steelers' offensive line has been one of the NFL's least consistent groups this season, but they controlled the Ravens' front seven. Players like Haloti Ngata weren't as much of a factor as normal as the Steelers ran for 141 yards and averaged almost five yards a carry-- and they've been right at the bottom of the NFL in terms of rushing. That's a big reason they controlled the clock and the game. The best thing was they were able to hold the Steelers to four field goals and just one touchdown or it could have been worse.

LINEBACKERS: C+

They did better than the front group but still had problems at times. Daryl Smith and Terrell Suggs both found their way to the ball a lot, but they couldn't help the line stop that running game, which proved crucial. Elvis Dumervil got hit with some untimely penalties, and that hurt the defense. But they made enough good plays to help the Ravens stay close that they had that shot in the end. 

SECONDARY: C

They were up and down again. If the Ravens could have stopped the Steelers on that final drive, the game would have gone into overtime. But the secondary let Ben Roethlisberger complete some key passes on that last possession, and Lardarius Webb got flagged for illegal contact, which gave the Steelers a crucial first down. Otherwise, it would have been third down, and the defense would've had a chance to stop them.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C+

The good part was Justin Tucker nailing three field goals as the offense had problems getting the ball into the end zone once again. Tucker's truly grown into a good pressure kicker. But giving up the long kickoff return on that final drive was a game-changing play. And coach John Harbaugh was very upset about the offsides call on the onsides kick try, which is understandable. Even if they got the ball, the penalty blows the play.