The Ravens were visited by the Redskins for their third preseason game. There were a lot of questions heading into this game because the starters get the most reps during week 3 of preseason. There were a fair share of good and bad moments in this contest; time to recap the action from the 23-17 victory.
Steve Smith Sr. Has His Best Game Yet
Number 89 flashed his talent on a couple of occasions in the first few games, but he exploded against Washington. He caught many short and intermediate balls early and consistently. In the final minute of the first half, he capped the drive with a 24 yard reception for a touchdown after winning against single coverage. We could see a lot of this in the regular season as Steve may be poised to lead the team in receptions this season. He finished tonight with 6 receptions for 80 yards and a score.
Two Minute Drill
It wasn’t just Steve Smith on the final possession of the first half. Flacco orchestrated that drive beautifully with good throws to Steve Smith and Torrey Smith. Torrey caught all 4 of his receptions for the game during this drive as Cool Joe showed the poise to perform in clutch situations. With a beautiful throw to Steve in the end zone, Flacco led an 8 play drive 74 yards down the field for the touchdown.
The biggest question coming into this game was how the back of the defense would play with Jimmy Smith, Webb, and Asa Jackson missing today’s game. Many people felt that this game would provide the answer with the talent the secondary was playing against. The pass defense played fantastic, holding RGIII to only 5 of 8 for 20 yards and an interception. Facing DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Andre Roberts, the Ravens only allowed 3 catches for 10 yards from the trio combined. DeSean Jackson did not record a single catch. Anthony Levine and Terrence Brooks were both playing nickel corner with success as both stepped up in pass defense. Levine had a good deflection in the end zone and Brooks kept RGIII from scrambling for yards.
The Ravens only went 3 and out twice, but could not finish on drives early in the game. There were two attempts to convert 4th downs that both kept points off the board. The Ravens would most likely not go for it when they have Tucker in range for field goals, but it would be nice to see these situations end with conversions as they will surely be in the same spot at some point in the regular season.
The Running Game
After the run game dominated the first two preseason games, they couldn’t muster above 3 yards a carry as a unit. The offensive line failed to open lanes for running backs as they routinely got hit at the line of scrimmage. Bernard Pierce took a vicious shot early and had to leave for concussion testing. The play calling definitely impacted the runners since the Redskins were calling blitzes more times than not and Baltimore could not counter it. Tyrod Taylor should not be the leading rusher for the team.
Both Flacco and Taylor both faced pressure on many of their drop backs. Flacco got sacked twice and that number could have been higher if he hadn’t avoided the rush himself. It may have been the second team offensive line, but Tyrod could not step into the pocket much during his time on the field. The Redskins have two great pass rushers in Kerrigan and Orakpo, but the line has to protect the quarterback better in order for the offense to be efficient this season.