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PFF Grades: Don’t blame the Ravens defensive line for the loss to Pittsburgh

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Pittsburgh Steelers v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Pro Football Focus was impressed with the performance of the Baltimore Ravens defensive line in Week 4. With starting defensive tackle Brandon Williams unavailable due to a foot injury and starting defensive end Brent Urban Baltimore’s most recent addition to the injured reserve list, the Ravens allowed Le’Veon Bell and James Conner to rush for 170 yards and two scores on 39 carries.

However, PFF’s weekly Refocused article ranked two defensive lineman among the Ravens three highest graded players in their loss to the Steelers:

Fellow defensive tackle Carl Davis also chipped in three tackles and defensive end Bronson Kaufusi held his ground for the most part in his NFL debut. Pierce played 60 defensive snaps; while Davis, Henry and Kaufusi played 42, 31 and 23 snaps respectively. The defensive line was thought to be the deepest position group on the team this year, and proved this to be true in Week 4. Even with two starters injured and third round rookie Chris Wormley inactive, the remaining down linemen still performed admirably.

The same cannot be said of the Ravens outside linebackers. The Steelers tortured the Ravens with counter runs to the outside. Za’Darius Smith in particular was unable to hold the edge against backup right tackle Chris Hubbard. Terrell Suggs was almost invisible, with just a single assisted tackle recorded. Second year man Matt Judon has not taken the next step many expected of him thus far in 2017. And Day 2 rookies Tyus Bowser and Tim Williams combined for two tackles on 29 total defensive snaps.

Surely a nearly eleven minute advantage in time of possession helped the Steelers establish the run. Still, with five talented outside ‘backers to rotate through, the Ravens must be more stout against the run going forward. The task will not be any easier in Week 5 when Baltimore travels to Oakland to face another capable rushing attack.