Mike Preston’s report card: Position-by-position grades for Ravens’ 34-20 win over the Bengals | COMMENTARY

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Here’s how the Ravens (8-3) graded out at each position after a 34-20 win over the Cincinnati Bengals (5-5) in Thursday night’s Week 11 game at M&T Bank Stadium.


Lamar Jackson didn’t have his favorite target because tight end Mark Andrews injured his left ankle on the first possession and did not return. Coach John Harbaugh said after the game that it looks like a “season-ending injury.” Jackson was effective on short passes and showed good mobility but held on to the ball too long at times. He missed several long passes and the Ravens went to the running game in the second half. Jackson completed 16 of 26 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns and finished with a passer rating of 121.3, which is somewhat misleading. Grade: C+

Running backs

Harbaugh must have ordered the Ravens to run the ball in the second half, and they got the message. The Ravens had 33 rushing yards in the first half and 124 in the second. Gus Edwards had 12 carries for 62 yards and Keaton Mitchell had 33 yards on eight attempts. Jackson had nine carries for 54 yards and Edwards had two 3-yard touchdown runs. Edwards and Mitchell were a good outside-inside tandem. Grade: C+


Despite Jackson missing several open receivers on long passes, the Ravens were still successful with short and intermediate throws. The Ravens had success running slants and quick screens, and Jackson completed a 51-yard pass to receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in the fourth quarter. Beckham finished with four catches for 116 yards but exited late with a shoulder injury. Zay Flowers had three catches for 43 yards, including one for 33 yards. The Ravens averaged 16.5 yards per catch but turned some of those short passes into big gains. Grade: C

Offensive line

This group started to dominate in the second half as the Ravens started to wear the Bengals down. Guards Kevin Zeitler, John Simpson and center Tyler Linderbaum had solid games, but the Ravens’ tackles — Patrick Mekari and Morgan Moses — allowed too much pressure on the outside. They both had trouble with speed rushers, and the Ravens were fortunate Jackson could change direction and improvise on passing plays. The Ravens, though, finished with 157 yards on 31 carries. The Bengals had three sacks. Grade: C-

Defensive line

The Ravens played better than a week ago but Cincinnati still had success running the ball, especially in the first half when the offense was performing better with Joe Burrow under center. The Bengals did a nice job of angling in on nose tackle Michael Pierce and end Justin Madubuike, but the Ravens were able to maintain lane integrity much better than they did against the Browns on Sunday. Both Pierce and Madubuike had a strong presence in the middle as far as putting pressure on the quarterbacks. Madubuike finished with three tackles, including a sack. Grade: C


Middle linebacker Roquan Smith finished with 10 tackles but he still played too far off the ball and allowed the Bengals to get into his body. He was more effective with run blitzes. Weak side linebacker Patrick Queen had 11 tackles but missed several in the open field and seemed to be a step slow in pass coverage. The Ravens got good pressure from the edges with outside linebackers Jadeveon Clowney (one sack, two quarterback hits) and Kyle Van Noy (one sack, one quarterback hit). The best pass rusher was Odafe Oweh, who finished with just one sack but provided consistent pressure throughout the game. He hustled all over the field, even though the Ravens allowed 136 rushing yards. Grade: C+


Safety Kyle Hamilton was the best player in this group. He knocked down two passes and finished with three tackles. His pass coverage was tight for most of the game, especially on the outside. The Ravens had little trouble holding down Bengals star receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who had only two catches for 12 yards and a meaningless touchdown with 1:08 left. When Burrow left the game, the Bengals were more content to run out the clock than challenge the Ravens downfield, but safety Marcus Williams did knock down two passes and finished with seven tackles. The Bengals had only 136 passing yards. Grade: B

Special teams

Justin Tucker converted on field goal attempts of 25 and 47 yards. The Ravens returned only one punt for 5 yards and didn’t have any return yards on four kickoffs. Punter Jordan Stout had four punts for an average of 45.5 yards, including a long of 56, but this wasn’t one of his better games. The best thing about the special teams is that the Ravens didn’t have any major blunders like they’ve had in recent weeks. Grade: B


At least offensive coordinator Todd Monken got Mitchell involved in the offense this week, and that’s a plus moving forward. The Ravens also closed this one out with a strong running game, an element that has been consistently missing from the offense for a couple of years. Defensively, the Ravens played well enough to hold off Cincinnati, but it would have been interesting to see how this group would have fared if Burrow had played all four quarters. Grade: B-


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