The Ravens traveled to Atlanta for their first preseason game and could finally hit someone in a different jersey; however, most of the starters left the field kicking themselves.
Even though the Ravens ended up beating the Falcons 31-17, the victory came largely at the hands of the backups as opposed to those of the starters. When the first team squads exited for the Ravens, they trailed 17-7 heading into halftime.
Not much thought should be placed into it but the Ravens reserve players did outscore the Falcons 24-0 in the second half, which eventually gave the Ravens the win.
Before some reserve players are highlighted, here is a brief look at how the starters faired on Thursday night against the first team units for the Falcons.
On the first drive of the game, Cary Williams was targeted multiple times by Matt Ryan. During the drive, which resulted in a 7-yard touchdown pass from Ryan to Julio Jones, Ryan completed all five of his passes for 71 yards.
Jones easily worked his way through the Ravens secondary and ended up with four catches and 58 yards on the drive.
The only major highlight of the starting defensive unit was Brendon Ayanbadejo who was filling in for Ray Lewis as he took the night off. Ayanbadejo tied for a team high four solo tackles and also had an interception inside the Ravens 10-yard line, preventing the Falcons from extending their lead and gaining even more momentum.
For all of the praise Joe Flacco has received throughout training camp, he got off to a bad start.. In his defense, Flacco was running for his life in the pocket, as plays didn’t have enough time to develop.
Cam Cameron’s offense struggled as the Ravens had three consecutive three and out drives. For the most part, Flacco had no time to throw as the offensive line had communication issues and Falcons defenders ran through the middle of the Ravens offensive line.
Flacco was hit extremely hard during one drive as Sean Witherspoon came up the middle and capitalized on communication breakdown between Gino Gradkowski and Bobbie Williams.
At the end of the first three drives, Flacco had 9 yards on nine total plays spanning the first quarter.
Against the Falcons’ second-team defense, the Ravens offense eventually scored as Flacco found Ed Dickson for a 9-yard touchdown pass. Unfortunately, Dickson would land awkwardly on his shoulder, spraining it.
Notable Final Stats For Starters
· QB – Joe Flacco: 9-12, 88 yds, 1 TD
· WR – Torrey Smith: 3 rec, 43 yds
· TE – Ed Dickson: 2 rec, 15 yds, 1 TD
Notable Offensive Performances:
Bobby Rainey (RB) - Because he is so similar in stature to Ray Rice, Rainey is hardly the prototypical change of pace back and consequently it’s hard to see him as the No. 2 tailback. Moreover, if Rainey can’t contribute on special teams as a kick returner, deductive reasoning would suggest that he’s a long shot to make the team.
Tonight, Rainey had many opportunities on special teams and in the Ravens backfield. He returned one kickoff for 26 yards and also had six punt returns the longest of which was 15 yards.
As a part of the offense, Rainey flourished during limited time on the field. In his first career NFL game, Rainey was on the receiving end of a well designed red zone screen and turned it into an 18-yard touchdown. He finished with 28 yards receiving and 36 yards rushing.
Anthony Allen’s ineffectiveness thus far and Bernard Pierce’s hamstring injury has provided extra opportunities for Rainey to see the field – and he’s capitalizing on it.
Curtis Painter (QB)- Painter, who had no success last season as an NFL starter for the Colts, excelled against the third string defense of the Falcons.
Painter only had seven completions but three of those were for touchdowns. Painter did not throw an interception and had 76 yards total on 14 attempts.
Not expected to make the Ravens 53-man roster, Painter may have at least caught the eyes of a few teams around the league as a consideration for a backup quarterback spot if he continues to excel against many guys who won’t be in the NFL come mid-September.
Deonte’ Thompson (WR)- After running alongside Williams as a primary receiver on the second-team offense, Thompson saw plenty of playing time in his NFL debut.
Thompson pulled in a 22 yard pass for a touchdown from Painter and led the Ravens in total yards (53).
If Thompson continues to perform as he did in this game and has he’s previously done in practice, it’s likely the Ravens will try to make room for him on their roster.
Notable Defensive Performances:
Omar Brown (S) – Had this been the regular season, Browns statistics would have put him in the running for defensive player of the week.
Brown had two fumble recoveries and returned them for a combined 32 yards, along with an interception and two tackles.
It’ll be interesting to see if Brown continues to play at this high level during games because he’s been relatively quiet during training camp.
Nigel Carr (LB) – Even though he only had two tackles, Nigel Carr was all over the field and received a considerable amount of playing time in his NFL debut. Carr contributed both on defense and on special teams throughout the game and his #42 was constantly on the TV screen.
Corey Graham (CB) – Brought to Baltimore for his excellence on special teams, Graham has been seeing a lot of time at corner and has been making plenty of plays.
Tonight, Graham had four tackles and a sack from a corner blitz. If he keeps playing the way he has been in practice, and now games, Graham will force the coaches to find ways to put him on the field.
· Ed Dickson- Sprained shoulder, MRI Friday
· Ryan McBean- Left ankle injury, appears to be broken
· Torrey Smith- Ankle Sprain (mild)
· Asa Jackson- Hamstring (mild)
· Tyrod Taylor – Hamstring (mild)
· Chykie Brown- Hamstring (mild)
The Ravens return to Baltimore today where they have the day off. Training camp will resume Saturday and the team will hold an open practice for the public at the Navy-Marine Corp Stadium in Annapolis at 5:00 on Sunday.
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