Observation deck: Ravens-Falcons
August, 15, 2013
By Jamison Hensley | ESPN.com
The struggles of the Baltimore Ravens' starting offense this preseason has led to interceptions, three-and-outs and even a shouting outburst by running back Ray Rice.
Before the Ravens' backups rallied for a 27-23 preseason win over the Atlanta Falcons, Joe Flacco and the offense provided another instance in which Baltimore misses its top two tight ends (Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson are injured) and has yet to find a No. 2 wide receiver.
In five drives in the first half, the Ravens managed 131 yards of total offense and three first downs. Take away Torrey Smith's 77-yard touchdown -- the only highlight for the first-team offense in three quarters of play this preseason -- and Baltimore had 54 yards in the first half.
Flacco finished 7-of-9 for 118 yards, but the Ravens were 1-of-5 on third downs in the first half. Flacco's second interception of the preseason came when he forced a pass to Jacoby Jones, who was double covered on that play.
Rice didn't have much running room and was held to 10 yards on eight carries. When he was dropped 4 yards in the backfield late in the second quarter, a visibly upset Rice shouted as he headed to the sideline.
"That's about as bad as we can play," coach John Harbaugh told WBAL Radio while coming off the field at halftime, when the Ravens trailed 20-7.
In three quarters this preseason (eight total drives), the Ravens' starting offense has produced one touchdown, two turnovers (both interceptions) and three three-and-outs.
"We were just sloppy," Flacco said. "We never got into a rhythm."
Here are some other thoughts on the Ravens:
- Jimmy Smith, who is trying to win a starting cornerback job, had a rough night against wide receiver Julio Jones. Smith gave up three completions to Jones on a first-quarter drive that resulted in gains of 32, 15 and 8 yards. On the 8-yard touchdown to Jones, it looked like Smith was expecting inside help from a safety.
- Torrey Smith looked like a No. 1 receiver for the Ravens and accounted for two of the team's three third downs in the first half. On his touchdown, he caught a quick pass from Flacco and outran the Falcons defense for the score. Smith then converted a third-and-6 when he picked up 8 yards on a crossing route.
- The Ravens were penalized seven times for 68 yards. A.Q. Shipley, who got the start at center, drew two flags. He was called for a 15-yard personal foul and was flagged for a false start when the Ravens were backed up to their own end zone. LaQuan Williams also ran into the punter in the third quarter, which allowed the Falcons to convert and fourth-and-3.
- The Ravens defense is expected to be much stronger against the run this season. But the Falcons' Steven Jackson picked up yards in between the tackles, gaining 42 yards on eight carries, a 5.3-yard average.
- David Reed had a solid showing as the kickoff returner. He averaged 31.3 yards on three returns, including a 38-yarder. Reed is trying to win one of the final roster spots.
- Asa Jackson helped his cause for sticking around when he returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown, putting the Ravens ahead 27-23 with 6:18 left in the fourth quarter. Jackson has been suspended for the first eight games this season for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.