We've already graded the offense after the Ravens' 28-24 loss to the Bengals. Now it's time to get out the red pen and grade the defense, which gave up a late fourth-quarter lead for the second week in a row.
The report card:
DEFENSIVE LINE: B-
Brandon Williams might have been the Ravens best player yesterday. Against a strong offensive line he was a disruptive force at times and finished with a game-high eight tackles, including two for losses. Lawrence Guy, starting in place of injured Chris Canty, had seven stops. The Bengals have an impressive running back duo in Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, but the Ravens held the Bengals to 2.8 yards a carry, with no run longer than 7 yards. It was interesting that rookie Carl Davis started in place of Timmy Jernigan, although Jernigan did play 36 defensive snaps, five more than Davis, and finished with four tackles.
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Elvis Dumervil finally notched his first sack of the season and it was a big one, a strip-sack that C.J. Mosley returned for a touchdown. Daryl Smith finished with seven tackles and Mosley with six. Courtney Upshaw remains a nonfactor as a pass rusher, and he had a potential interception bounce off his hands. Rookie Za'Darius Smith played 30 snaps in a hybrid rush role and had one tackle. Like Upshaw, he has not been able to get near the quarterback.
A.J. Green destroyed the Ravens, with 10 catches for 227 yards and two touchdowns. Jimmy Smith simply couldn't handle him, but the Ravens problems in the secondary went much deeper than that. Rashaan Melvin saw his first game action and promptly picked up three quick penalties. Marvin Jones (5-94) had his way at times with Melvin or Kyle Arrington. The Ravens were in a zone on Green's 80-yard touchdown, and Green blew right by Kendrick Lewis, then broke a tackle by Smith. Lewis acknowledged after the game that miscommunication issues continue to dog the secondary. Poor coverage, poor communication and poor tackling. Add it up, and you get what is now the 29th-ranked pass defense.
SPECIAL TEAMS: C-
Justin Tucker suffered his first missed field-goal attempt of the season, a 50-yarder that looked off from the start. Sam Koch had a rough day, with a line drive punt that was returned 18 yards and another punt that was tipped. His net was just 37.3 yards. The bright spots on special teams included a fake punt by Anthony Levine -- which was successful only because he fumbled and then recovered just past the first-down marker -- and strong punt return work by Michael Campanaro (17.5 avg. on two returns). It looks like the Ravens have found their punt returner, since they can't afford to keep trotting Steve Smith back there.
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