Ravens rally for win over Redskins
BALTIMORE - Joe Flacco lobbed a high arcing spiral deep up the right sideline once he saw wide receiver Lee Evans dash past Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall.
And Evans hauled in the 35-yard touchdown strike in stride in the second quarter Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium, burning Hall one quarter after he exploited a Flacco miscue for a touchdown.
"Joe threw a great ball," Evans said. "He put it right where you would want to catch it. I couldn't ask for it to be better. All I wanted to do was make a play on it."
It was a crisp moment for the Baltimore Ravens on a night that was mostly a mixed bag of results for a team still seeking a clear identity three games into the preseason.
The Ravens' 34-31 victory over the Redskins shined a bright light on some communication issues in the secondary and the continued growing pains of a patchwork offensive line. The Ravens also displayed resiliency by rebounding from a two-touchdown deficit.
"We're a work in progress," wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. "I think we took a step in the right direction. On the downside, I think we shot ourselves in the foot too much. Before the preseason is over, that's something we need to get rid of."
In the first quarter, the Ravens (2-1) fell behind 14-0 as the offense failed to convert a third down and generated only 59 net yards. Flacco completed only 3 of his first 6 throws for 26 yards with an interception, but would go on to complete 14 of his next 21 attempts for 193 yards.
"We came back after a slow start," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "We can't have those kinds of starts in the regular season, but we did work to rally back."
Flacco left the game in the third quarter, replaced by rookie Tyrod Taylor after completing 17 of 27 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and one interception for a respectable 97.6 passer rating.
He completed three passes for 60 yards to Evans, the Ravens' new deep threat acquired via a trade from the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick.
"It's good to see Joe and Lee connect again," Cameron said.
The first half ended with Grossman finding Santana Moss behind rookie first-round cornerback Jimmy Smith for a a 24-yard touchdown pass.
"We didn't flinch when we got down," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We came back on both offense and defense. The last drive of the half was disappointing."
There was a busted assignment on the play as the Ravens didn't seem to be on the same page as far as adjusting to the Redskins' three-wide receiver formation.
"It was miscommunication," Smith said. "It's on all of us, but we didn't communicate, and I took the wrong guy at first, and then once I saw two guys stuck on one, I tried to turn back and tried to make a play, but it just didn't happen. It was just bad communication."
The Ravens began the game in rough fashion as Flacco's play-action fake fooled no one as he stared down wide receiver Anquan Boldin.
Hall immediately recognized where Flacco was going, jumping underneath Boldin to position himself for the interception.
"We started off a little slow obviously," Flacco said. "DeAngelo sat all over that route, and you never want to start out like that. It took us a drive to kind of pick it up from there and you don't want to see that. I think we responded pretty well."
Hall didn't stop running until 52 yards later after reaching the end zone.
"We shot ourselves in the foot, and that's why you saw the offense sputter," said Boldin, who led Baltimore with five catches for 73 yards and a touchdown. "When we come out and be ourselves, it's going to be hard to stop us. When we line up in the wrong formation or jump offsides, it's going to be tough for us to recover from that."
On the Redskins' next scoring drive, quarterback Rex Grossman went after cornerback Domonique Foxworth and hit Anthony Armstrong for a 33-yard gain. One year after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament, Foxworth had trouble matching the wide receivers' speed.
Two plays later, running back Tim Hightower bounced outside for a 37-yard touchdown pass as All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis got blocked out of the play. Strong safety Tom Zbikowki, starting ahead of Bernard Pollard as they compete for the job, was unable to catch up with Hightower.
"We never like to give up yards running the ball, but the bottom line is when you look at that play, there were so many mistakes just on that one play," Lewis said. "I think this is just an opportunity for us to always get better. I really like the way we came out and faced adversity."
The entire defense looked out of position on that play, either over-pursuing or failing to get off blocks.
"As a unit, we can do better," Pro Bowl defensive tackle Haloti Ngata said. "There wasn't any miscommunication there. It was just more of the defensive line getting cut down. Really, we've got to stay on our feet.
"I've got two guys on me and some of us got cut down. They had that little cutback area. I think we did get better as the game went on. Hopefully, we can get rid of those mistakes."
Former Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice busted into the end zone from three yards out to get the Ravens on the scoreboard early in the second quarter. Rice finished with 72 yards on 13 carries.
In the Ravens' next possession, Flacco found Evans deep. And that score was set up by his 33-yard lob to tight end Ed Dickson, his best play this preseason as he competes with Dennis Pitta.
The Ravens looked confused defensively at the end of the first half as Smith didn't react quickly to a trips package.
The Redskins seemed to be targeting Smith on the play and wanted to get the football in Moss' hnads.. The Ravens fell behind 21-14 at halftime.
"We had some communication issues," defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said. "We can't have that once the regular season comes. We had a chance to make some plays and get off the field and we didn't make them."
In the third quarter, Boldin caught a12-yard touchdown pass in the back of the end zone from Flacco on a well-timed throw.
The Redskins answered the touchdown with a 13-yard touchdown pass to Terrence Austin from former Baltimore quarterback John Beck.
The Ravens capped the game with a nine-yard touchdown catch by wide receiver Brandon Jones, who dove and touched the pylon to give the Ravens the lead for good. The score was affirmed by an instant-replay review.
The score was set up by undrafted rookie wide receiver LaQuan Williams' 38-yard punt return.
Taylor completed 11 of 18 passes for 125 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions.
"I think we're still getting better," Evans said. "We're still in training camp mode. We realize this is one of the last opportunities we're going to have to tune up. I think we showed a lot of character early on after we were down, so that part of it was good."
Notebook: Bryant McKinnie takes over at left tackle, Michael Oher shifts to right side
BALTIMORE – As a hulking Bryant McKinnie walked around the sidelines in workout clothes one day after passing his physical and signing his $7.5 million contract, there was already change on the Baltimore Ravens' offensive line.
With the arrival of the former Pro Bowl offensive tackle triggering a watershed change with Michael Oher about to move to right offensive tackle from the left side, the Ravens still had Oher start at left tackle against the Washington Redskins during a 34-31 win Thursday night at M&T Bank Stadium.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh indicated that Oher will be moving to the right side, though, as McKinnie takes over at left tackle
"Our plan right now is to move Michael to right and to move Bryant to left.," Harbaugh said. "We'll see how that goes. Everything is fluid. I'd love to say that's set in stone, but that's not set in stone. Bryant has played there, Michael has played the right side. Michael is about as good a person and as great a team guy as I've ever been around in my career.
"Ozzie [Newsome]and I brought him in, and we talked to him the night before last. He said it before we said it: ‘Whatever I need to do to help this be the best football team and the best offensive line it can be, all the career stuff can wait.' We're trying to be the best football team we can be, and that's exactly what he said."
Although this marks the second time he's had to change positions, Oher seemed to take the pending change in stride.
"Whatever is the best situation for the team for us to win, that's the No. 1 thing," Oher said. "He's a good guy. Obviously, he's a pretty good player, a Pro Bowl player. He's been blocking for great running backs, great quarterbacks. He's going to be a big help to the offensive line.
"I think we'll do great this year with him. You always want a good player. You want to play with the best guy. I'm a team guy. I'm trying to win and I want the best for the team. That's what it's all about.
Oher said he's comfortable going back to right tackle where he played as a rookie after being drafted in the first round out of Ole Miss.
"You got to adjust, you got to play football," Oher said. "You got to do what the team needs. As long as you're out on the field making holes for the running back and protecting Joe Flacco, we'll be all right."
New offensive lineman Mark LeVoir normally plays offensive tackle, but he lined up with the starters at right guard ahead of Oniel Cousins with Marshal Yanda still sidelined due to back spasms.
"'It's the second time I've ever played right guard," LeVoir said. "The first time was my first preseason game with New England. Wherever I can help the team, I'm willing to do it.
"The spacing is a lot smaller. Guys are on top of you. It's a lot quicker than being on the edge where you have a lot of area. I'll get comfortable over time. You just got to go out there and play."
Rookie third-round draft pick Jah Reid started at right offensive tackle for the second time this preseason.
McKinnie didn't look anywhere near the nearly 400-pound girth he reportedly showed up weighing when he showed up to the Minnesota Vikings' training camp prior to being released.
He looked to be in reasonable shape, albeit hefty, for an offensive lineman. McKinnie went through a workout with the coaching staff before the game.
"He's been working out and he's been eating right," Harbaugh said. "He's been working on football. We just had a great meeting with him. I'm very impressed with him. He's a very mature guy, very excited to be here, very intelligent guy. He picks up football like that, and I'm looking forward to getting him to fold."
FOXWORTH GETS THE START: Domonique Foxworth started at cornerback for the first time since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last year.
He was beaten for several completions, including a 33-yard pass to Anthony Armstrong up the sideline.
It looked like his recovery speed was an issue as he tries to knock off the rust and work through the scar tissue.
LINEUP LOOP: The Ravens started Cary Williams opposite Foxworth.
Tight end Ed Dickson started for the second consecutive game along with Bryan Mattison at center with Matt Birk sidelined following knee surgery at the start of training camp.
The Ravens started Jameel McClain next to Ray Lewis at middle linebacker.
The first inside linebacker to substitute for McClain was Tavares Gooden.
Not playing besides McKinnie, Yanda and Birk: running back Matt Lawrence (knee) and wide receiver James Hardy (hamstring).
Chris Carr (hamstring) was dressed out for the game.
SHAKY HANDS: Rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith, the Ravens' second-round draft pick from the University of Maryland, dropped two passes.
His hands have been shaky games and during practices.
"I had two of them I would like back," Smith said. "I've been a playmaker forever. That hasn't changed. It's more trying to get in a groove and I've kind of been pressing. I've really been wanting to make a play. Everyone has been making plays around me, the whole receiving corps. I just got to be patient and let it come to me instead of pressing the issue.
"Obviously I can catch the ball. I know I can catch the ball. It's just a concentration issue. I'm pressing, wanting to make a play, wanting to make an impact instead of letting it come to me. I was wide open on one play. I've got to get back to the basics and starting playing like myself."
Flacco said that Smith simply needs to play with confidence and use his natural ability instead of pondering his assignments.
"Torrey just has to go out there and play, use his abilities," Flacco said. "Got to make a move, run by guys, use his hands, go out there and play confidently and use his ability and make moves. I think he has a tendency to overthink things. He always wants to do the right thing. He always comes up to me and tells me he wants to do the right thing.
"Sometimes when you go out there on Sundays, you just have to let it go and play. If you go out there and make mistakes, you make mistakes. You just have to go out there and play. He's just going to have to learn that. He has all the ability to go out there and let it come to him."
DOSS BREAKS UP A FIGHT: Hours before kickoff, rookie wide receiver Tandon Doss broke up a fight at the Inner Harbor in a Five Guys restaurant.
"I saw somebody start fighting, and I broke it up," Doss said. "That's all it was to me."
Doss indicated that it wasn't a fair fight, so he stepped in.
"It was two dudes on one," Doss said. "I was just trying to help the situation out. I broke it up."
The fourth-round draft pick from Indiana first broached the topic on his Twitter account.
"Jus had to break up a fight at five guy," he wrote. "Baltimore is too ratchet!!!"
Doss said he wasn't thinking about his own well-being, just helping out someone in distress.
"No, I just broke the fight up," Doss said. "I mean, I saw a guy on the ground bleeding, and I saw [another guy] on top of him hitting, so I just had to stop him."
Harbaugh said he didn't have any knowledge of the incident.
"I'm not on Twitter," Harbaugh said. "I'll be looking into that."
QB CHANGE: The Redskins started Rex Grossman over former Ravens quarterback John Beck.
Beck completed 14 of 17 passes for 140 yards against the Indianapolis Colts.
Grossman completed 19 of 26 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Former Ravens cornerback Josh Wilson was replaced in the starting lineup by Byron Westbrook.
MOMENT OF SILENCE: The Ravens held a moment of silence for the late Orioles pitcher and executive Mike Flanagan.
Flanagan committed suicide with police saying he died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
ROSTER MOVE: The Ravens announced that they've waived defensive back Marcus Paschal after initially placing him on injured reserve earlier this week with a quadriceps injury. He was given an injury settlement.
CAUGHT IN THE WEBB: Cornerback Lardarius Webb intercepted a Beck pass in the third quarter, also sacking the former Raven for a nine-yard loss.
"I've got to come back and get better and improve on the things, covering the guys one-on-one in the slot," Webb said. "I guess you all could say I had a good game, but I don't think so."
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