Football finally got underway last night and the defending Super Bowl Champions looked very, very good on all fronts as they rolled to a 44-16 thrashing over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the preseason opener.
Most of the starters did not play very long, but the little time they did play was impressive. The revamped defense was absolutely the highlight of the night in regards to the starters. Baltimore’s front seven showed that they could be one of the best in the NFL last night as they were consistently putting pressure on the quarterback and stuffing the run game, for the most part.
"We're a very different team than we were, so we were really anxious to get on the field and just see who we are, because we really don't know in a lot of ways," coach John Harbaugh said after Thursday night's 44-16 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "We suspect we have a chance to be a good team, but we've got a long way to go as far as being on the same page in a lot of ways, so it's a good thing we've got preseason, obviously."
The additions of guys like Elvis Dumervil and Chris Canty were visible right out of the gate as Dumervil was flying around the field and putting pressure on the quarterback, while Canty came up with a sack from the end on a play where Tampa had to double team Dumervil, which left Canty with a one on one battle and he took advantage of it. Terrell Suggs was also visibly healthier than he was last year as he looked like his old self.
Baltimore’s starters on offense looked pretty good as well, although quarterback Joe Flacco did throw an interception on a 3rd and 15 out route to Jacoby Jones, where it looked as though Jones should have come up to attempt the catch. Other than the pick, Flacco was very solid with his accuracy and footwork in the pocket. He made a very nice third down conversion on a pass to Ray Rice over the middle that saw Flacco move up in the pocket as it was collapsing around him to get the throw off.
Of course when it comes to preseason games, the bigger concept for coaches is too see which guys can make an impression to try and earn a spot on the active roster come the regular season and wide receiver LaQuan Williams did just that last night.
In rainy conditions throughout much of the first half, Williams was the only receiver who really found a way to hold onto the ball as other receivers were dropping a lot of passes. Williams made a nice grab in the endzone on a high throw by backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor for a 21 yard score. LaQuan’s great night did not end there however, as he recovered two fumbles on special teams including a blocked punt that he fell on for a touchdown.
Baltimore ran away with the game in the second half continuing to add on. Seventh round draft choice Aaron Mellette also reeled in a 21 yard touchdown pass from Taylor, and Damien Berry looked impressive rushing for 31 yards on nine carries. Taylor completed 13 of 23 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Tomorrow we will take a look at the top five performers for the Ravens in their preseason opener and who really shined as they look to earn a roster spot.
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