It was a hot and muggy Saturday night in Arlington, Texas, but the weather inside AT&T stadium was nice and cool for the Ravens vs. Cowboys preseason matchup. While the Cowboys offense came out firing on all cylinders, the Ravens O didn’t even see the field until there was 3:25 left on the clock in the first quarter following touchdowns by the defense and special teams. When the offense did take the field, they looked sluggish and unprepared, quite the change from last week.
Joe Flacco had trouble connecting with his receivers on the first couple of series, but eventually got it together and finished the first half 9 of 17 for 113 yards with a beautiful touchdown pass to Torrey Smith in the corner of the end zone. The Ravens finished the half up 27-10 after Courtney Upshaw returned a botched handoff from Tony Romo to DeMarco Murray for a touchdown, and Delonte Thompson ran a kickoff back 108 yards for another touchdown.
Tony Romo was making his first appearance of the preseason following his offseason back surgery, and he looked as sharp as ever, completing 4 of 5 passes for 80 yards and a touchdown. The Ravens defense had no answer for Romo and wide receiver Dez Bryant, who broke at least seven tackles on the scoring drive before catching one in the end zone as Raven’s cornerback Dominique Franks basically fell over while “trying” to cover Dez.
Thankfully for the Ravens, the Cowboys sat Dez and Romo following the scoring drive. Brandon Weeden proceeded to play the next seven series and finished 10 of 19 for 129 yards and an interception. As the Cowboy’s offense grinded to a halt following Dez and Romo’s departure, the Raven’s offense was able to get going. Even after Flacco came out of the game in the second half, Tyrod Taylor was easily able to march the team up the field as the Ravens took a 34-10 lead capped off by a Lorenzo Taliaferro touchdown.
Unfortunately the victory did not come without repercussions, as both Ray Rice and Jimmy Smith left the game with injuries. Smith suffered a chest contusion while attempting to break up a Dez Bryant catch and was coughing up blood on the sideline afterwards. Rice suffered a shoulder bruise and went back to the locker room, but his x-rays came up negative. Thankfully, both injuries are considered minor and both Smith and Rice shouldn’t miss too much time.
Smith’s departure further decimated an already thin unit at cornerback, and exposed the substandard depth behind him. Chykie Brown did show up and make a big play, however, knocking away a pass intended for Terrance Williams that would have easily gone for a touchdown. In all fairness, Brandon Weeden underthrew the ball, but it was a nice play nonetheless. Even if Smith doesn’t miss too much time, we wouldn’t be surprised to see the Ravens try and add another body at cornerback.
Delonte Thompson has been on the roster bubble through training camp, and not many people consider him likely to make the final roster (including us). But he made a strong case via his special teams play last night, including a 108 yard kickoff return for a touchdown where he simply outran everyone else. On the very next kickoff return, Thompson followed up with a 50 yard return. If he keeps that up, the Ravens may be forced to find a way to keep him on the roster.
Pernell McPhee had a massive sack on Brandon Weeden, and shortly thereafter Josh Bynes had a huge hit on Weeden as well. Both have looked good through camp, and McPhee has really come on strong lately. At the very least, he should wind up in a pass rush package or two. Linebacker Daryl Smith sniffed out a run play and blew up Lance Dunbar in the backfield, showing the veteran instincts that we love.
The Ravens followed up their strong rushing performance from game 1 with another excellent outing, racking up 151 yards on 31 attempts (4.9 average). Lorenzo Taliaferro once again led the way with 59 yards on 16 carries (3.7 ypc) with one touchdown. Bernard Pierce looked ready to start as he racked up 55 yards on 7 carries for a stout 7.9 ypc. Rice had 2 carries for 21 yards before exiting with his injury. Justin Forsett had a fumble for the second week in a row, but it was recovered by the Ravens this time.
Tyrod Taylor had another efficient night, finishing 6 of 8 for 59 yards. Keith Wenning finished 2 of 4 behind him for 23 yards, but absorbed two sacks and lost a fumble as well. Jacoby Jones led the team in receiving this week with 3 catches for 49 yards, including a 38 yard grab from Joe Flacco. Marlon Brown had 2 catches for 31 yards with a 20 yard reception. Game 1 hero Kamar Aiken had 0 catches on 1 target this week.
For the second straight week, C.J. Mosley led the defense with 5 tackles (4 solo). Terrell Suggs, Daryl Smith, and Darian Stewart were right behind him with 3 tackles (3 solo). McPhee’s sack was the only one for the Ravens as the Cowboy’s offensive line had a strong outing. Reserve cornerback Brynden Trawick had the team’s lone interception.
After the dust settled, it was another win for the Ravens, but there are a lot of issues for the team to address. The offense appeared to have some miscommunication and timing issues, unlike game 1, regressing a bit. The run game once again had a strong performance, however, and appears to be back on track following a dismal 2013.
The defense was a big disappointment overall. With the team literally strapped at the cornerback position, the Ravens desperately needed the pass rush to step up, which they didn’t. Had this been a regular season game, the Cowboy’s starting offense would have given this unit fits.
What did you think about last night’s matchup?
Tags: Baltimore Ravens