The so called “dress rehearsal” game, the third game of the preseason grants fans the closest thing to a real game before the regular season begins. The Baltimore Ravens did not give fans a very close resemblance of what they are going to look like come week one as the Carolina Panthers scored four non-offensive touchdowns en route to a 34-27 victory over the Ravens.
It was not a case of the Panthers picking on the second and third teamers last night, but the Ravens first team offense and special teams allowed three of the four non-offensive touchdowns. Baltimore allowed a punt return for a touchdown, a Joe Flacco interception that was returned for a touchdown, and a Bernard Pierce fumble that was returned for a score as well, on and later Tyrod Taylor also has an interception returned for a TD.
“What we did tonight, we’re not going to win a lot of football games,” Flacco said after the game.
Flacco completed 18 of his 24 pass attempts in the game for 169 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, which equated to a 73.1 passer rating. The starting offense played into the third quarter last night as it was likely their last significant playing time before September 5th against the Denver Broncos on Opening Night.
It wasn’t all bad for the Ravens offense as they came out a team on a mission when they marched right down the field on their opening drive for a 69 yard touchdown drive that was capped off with a Ray Rice two yard score. Rice had a nice night running for 62 yards on 16 carries with a touchdown. It was a huge improvement from the 17 yards he had entering the game on 11 carries.
Baltimore’s starting offense managed a second touchdown on the night when Flacco hit undrafted rookie free agent Marlon Brown on a crossing route for a 24 yard touchdown on a pass that was in the only place that Brown could catch it and Brown made a terrific grab in traffic. Brown made quite an impression last night as he tries to earn a roster spot as he caught four balls for 59 yards and a touchdown.
Without question, the most impressive part of the night was the Ravens defense. The scoreboard may have said 34-27, but the defense allowed just six points on the night. The entire defense was flying around the ball and disrupting plays. Baltimore’s secondary played much better, but the front seven was phenomenal.
The defense managed to accrue three sacks on the night and were led by Albert McClellan who had six tackles and a sack.
Even more encouraging was that Lardarius Webb made his preseason debut last night and he looked great. He showed great closing speed, the ability to stop and go with no problem, and that he can still be a blanket in coverage.
“It felt great just to be out there with the guys and have that game feeling. It felt food to the heart,” Webb said.
When later asked about his regular season readiness, he replied with,
“I’m just going to leave it up to the coaches, leave it up to Harbs.”
The only injury of note on the night for the Ravens was backup quarterback, Taylor as he left the game with concussion like symptoms after taking a hit.
Although it was a loss, there were plenty of positives to draw out of last night’s game and tomorrow we will touch on the top performances. Baltimore is now 2-1 this preseason and will not return home until week two of the regular season on September 15th.
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