Ravens Report Card

Ravens 30, Steelers 13

September 20, 2004|By MIKE PRESTON

Quarterback: Kyle Boller wasn't great, just effective. He made some plays with his feet, which probably will become a big weapon for the Ravens this season. The key here was he didn't have any turnovers, didn't try to force any passes and didn't have to win the game. -- Grade: C+

Running backs: Jamal Lewis averaged 2.6 yards on 24 carries, but he softened up the Steelers on the first series when he made some tough, hard runs. Backup Chester Taylor was explosive with nine rushes for 76 yards. He added a fresh pair of legs. The Ravens should have used him more last week. -- Grade: A

Receivers: Tight end Todd Heap was playing well before he was injured, recording three catches for 27 yards. Receiver Randy Hymes had three catches for 24 yards. The Ravens stayed within their scheme of short and intermediate passes, and Pittsburgh cornerbacks still seemed shellshocked from a week ago against Oakland when the Raiders burned them deep. -- Grade: C+

Offensive line: Pittsburgh outside linebacker Joey Porter talks a lot before every game, but left offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden always makes him disappear. Poof. Porter was a no-show yesterday. Right offensive tackle Orlando Brown also performed well, but the left side with Ogden and guard Edwin Mulitalo dominated early. -- Grade: A

Defensive line: Nose tackle Maake Kemoeatu played in place of injured Kelly Gregg, and got a lot of penetration on Jeff Hartings, one of the league's best centers. Now he just needs to work on getting quicker. Right end Marques Douglas (five tackles) keeps getting better every week. -- Grade: B+

Linebackers: Pittsburgh couldn't handle this group. They hit the Steelers from all angles. Ray Lewis and Ed Hartwell controlled the middle of the field, and outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Adalius Thomas were excellent in bringing quarterback pressure from the outside: -- Grade: A

Defensive backs: The Steelers tried to test cornerback Deion Sanders, and he ran well with receiver Plaxico Burress. The Ravens can do a lot with cornerbacks Chris McAlister and Gary Baxter. Both can play in zone or are big enough to press, and both can come as pass rushers off the edge. Overall communication, though, still needs to improve. -- Grade: B+

Special teams: The Ravens are still committing too many penalties, giving up valuable field position. Punter Dave Zastudil averaged 42 yards per punt, but needs to improve inside the 20-yard line. Matt Stover was 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts. The duo of B.J. Sams and Deion Sanders might be on to something returning punts. Now, if only Sanders can keep that helmet on ... -- Grade: C

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