A division loss in embarrassing style leaves the Ravens sitting at 5-4 and 11th in the AFC for playoff seeding. The second half of the season started off terrible for the Ravens, but let's see exactly how bad as we give out week 9 grades.
Quarterback Joe Flacco again shows up with a confusingly inconsistent performance. While at times, he was pinpoint accurate including his 35 yard pass to Torrey Smith in the first quarter, he also had enough terrible throws that you have to question what he was seeing. While under pressure for most of the game and getting hit repeatedly, a franchise quarterback has to be able to make throws to keep drives alive, limit turnovers and get points when needed. Flacco did none of those items and even though he finished the night with over 300 yards, the single interception came at a point that handed Pittsburgh the lead that they would never give back up.
Running backs: D
Rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro coughed up the ball in what ended up being the turning point of an emotional game. Justin Forsett had some good runs mixed with a few stops for no yards as the Ravens ultimately got behind and stopped running the ball altogether. Again in an increasingly concerning issue, the Ravens failed to convert on some 3rd-and-shorts. Bernard Pierce had a single snap and couldn't maximize anything from it as he looks like the odd man out on that lineup. Kyle Juszczyk had a single catch for 12 yards and did fairly well as a lead blocker opening up some holes early in the game. The running backs both did well in the passing game, totaling 113 yards on only 9 receptions.
Offensive Line: D
Flacco was harassed all game long and the rushing attack failed to gain 100 yards, averaging only 3.5 yards per carry. As I mentioned with the running back grade, the line failed to get push on short yardage situations, which should be this team's bread and butter. The onslaught of Flacco was consistent, with the Steelers racking up 4 sacks and roughly 10 quarterback hits. The offensive line had a few penalties against them which only made the night worse for everyone.
Tight Ends: C
The Ravens' tight ends had an average game. Owen Daniels came back from his minor knee surgery to lead the Ravens in targets with 9 passes his way. Crockett Gillmore had a single reception for his first touchdown and Phillip Supernaw saw a single reception go for negative 2 yards, leading up to his release this week.
Wide Receivers: D+
Torrey Smith started the game in grand fashion, with a 35 yard touchdown catch. He was able to use a swim move at the goal line to get better position on the defensive back and haul in a perfectly thrown ball. After that, he and the rest of the receivers decided to go home for the night. The younger receivers were able to get some more playing time, but ultimately added only 4 receptions for 39 yards. Steve Smith played like he was exhausted all night and at times, gave up on routes completely. Torrey Smith dropped a touchdown pass that should have been caught, even with the pass interference and is still failing to give the Ravens a reason to pay him at the end of the season.
The Ravens again got bit by not having enough healthy corners on the field and they looked overwhelmed almost immediately after the turnover by Taliaferro. The players all were far too chippy for a game in which they were getting dominated in, with Suggs leading the pack on a dirty hit and consistent fan engagement even though his team was down by 19 points. Harbaugh lost control of this team in every facet on Sunday night, which led to multiple penalties, a story about a dirty hit from Suggs as well as Suggs spending more time engaging opposing fans than trying to win the game. Both the offense and defense failed to make adjustments and the offense got completely away from the running attack as the game wore on. Poor preparation and no control helped lead to the blowout loss.