In the first quarter, Baltimore's offense had just nine yards on nine plays — going three-and-out on its first three drives. The offensive line looked lost and confused, as if they weren't getting the necessary calls on time. This can be fixed with time as rookie center Gino Gradkowski continues to learn the offense. And remember, veteran center Matt Birk is scheduled to be back by the season opener on Sept. 10.
When Baltimore's first team offense settled down for its fourth drive, quarterback Joe Flacco looked to be in the type of control he's shown throughout the preseason. He led his group on an 11-play, 77-yard drive for a score, hitting tight end Ed Dickson for the touchdown. This cut Atlanta's lead to 14-7 in the second quarter. Atlanta added a field goal to make it 17-7 before the half, which didn't please coach John Harbaugh.
"We got a lot of things we need to work on, all three phases basically. I'm not happy with any of it," Harbaugh told radio station WBAL's Stan White at halftime.
In addition, the first team defense got no pressure on Atlanta's top unit. Quarterback Matt Ryan wasn't hit once and threw the ball downfield at will. Ryan targeted cornerback Cary Williams mostly, who didn't have his best game. Falcons receiver Julio Jones shined in a big way, catching six passes for 109 yards. When Baltimore had nine total yards, Jones had 109.
Things changed in the second half when more reserves entered the ball game. Undrafted rookie running back Bobby Rainey continued to turn heads with 140 all purpose yards (36 rushing, 28 receiving and 76 return). Rainey also turned a screen pass from third-string quarterback Curtis Painter into a touchdown, displaying nice vision and speed on the play.
"The play call was just about perfect for that situation," Painter said.
Another undrafted rookie also put in a solid performance. Wide receiver Deonte Thompson of Florida led the team in receiving with three catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. His score came after he got behind Atlanta's secondary, with Painter finding him in the back of the end zone from 22 yards away.
Rookie safety Omar Brown had a night to remember, recovering two fumbles and picking off a pass. Linebacker Albert McClellan had five tackles and a sack.
The Ravens weren't immune to the injury bug in their first preseason game. Dickson sprained his shoulder, receiver Torrey Smith sprained his ankle, cornerbacks Chykie Brown and Asa Jackson tweaked their hamstrings, and defensive tackle Ryan McBean potentially broke his ankle.
It's only one preseason game so it's time to worry yet. These are questions that can be answered in the remaining three exhibition games. It was evident Harbaugh wasn't happy with the intensity early, and that changed once more players vying for jobs had opportunities to get in the game.
Ravens defeat Falcons 31-17 in preseason
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