It’s a win! The Ravens start their 2010 football year with a preseason victory over the Carolina Panthers by a thunderous score of 17-12.
Well folks, tonight you saw a fairly new-look Ravens team playing on national TV. It’s the first preseason game, so you shouldn’t read too much into it, but I think there were definitely some things to take out of this game.
Because it’s the preseason, we won’t have a blow-by-blow recap like we might have for some games in the regular season, but rather some impressions we had of the team’s performance, along with individual performances. Now, we won’t go as far as rating Joe Reitz’ failed touchdown celebration as one of the most hilarious ever seen, but you have to admit it was pretty good.
Read on to see the scoring summary and what I took out of the game.
- First Quarter (9:20)- 32 yard field goal from Shayne Graham.
- Second Quarter (11:55)- 30 yard pass from Joe Flacco to Mark Clayton. Billy Cundiff makes extra point.
- Third Quarter (2:39)- 8 yard run from Troy Smith. Billy Cundiff makes extra point.
Now for a list of guys who I was thoroughly impressed with.
- Joe Flacco was exceptional. Accumulating 120 yards with a touchdown and a 75% completion percentage to go along with it is no small feat, and Flacco made it look easy. He spread the ball around, and didn’t feel any pressure to throw to Anquan Boldin, something that I’m very happy about. I can feel the breakout year coming, and seeing Flacco justify it for me tonight felt good.
- Jalen Parmele had a golden opportunity to make the Ravens and the fans consider him a legitimate running threat who could replace Willis McGahee if McGahee was to be placed on the trading block for a cornerback. What happened was McGahee being versatile and explosive and Parmele being woefully ineffective.
- While the inevitable media lovefest with Marc Bulger will continue, he did not impress me. I’m not just talking about the fumble and the suspect completion percentage. The passes he did complete were the product of very good receiving plays and his decisions were a bit slow and deliberate. He didn’t fail miserably, but he should’ve easily done better.
- Ed Dickson is a monster! He showed incredible talent and athletic ability along with a good knowledge of his role with the offense. I give him the edge over Dennis Pitta for now.
- Tom Zbikowski just keeps doing everything right. He was all over the field and made no mistakes. I’m starting to see the flashes of his brilliance that he showed during his time at Notre Dame. If he keeps up his performances, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t start and be a fixture in the Ravens’ defense for years to come.
- Terrence Cody impressed me and was a pleasant surprise. He was getting good pressure on Jimmy Clausen and moved well. I’m really digging how he’s transitioning to the NFL and how he’ll fit in with the Ravens defense. He showed why he’s such a valuable asset to a defense, stopping both the pass and run.
- Talk about a presence. Ray Lewis didn’t even play in the game and he was an ever-present sight on the sidelines. He looks to be in great shape, sounded enthusiastic during his interview with Suzy Kolber, and seemed to be confident in the defense’s abilities even with the secondary being so depleted.
- Prince Miller made the most of his opportunity in the return game. He broke six tackles en route to a 57-yard punt return in the third quarter that directly set up Troy Smith’s touchdown scamper. He’s been a name on everyone’s lips as both a return guy and a cornerback, so that return really reinforced the faith people have been giving him.
- Cary Williams, another cornerback looking to make the roster, was impressive. He fought off Brandon LaFell in the end zone on a jumpball and had a massive hit on former Appalachian State stud Armanti Edwards. Good to see him stepping up, even knowing already that he’ll be suspended to start the season.
- Kelly Talavou had two sacks and got some great pressure on the quarterback. If he can keep this up, he could become a nice contributor to the Ravens’ defensive line.
- It was good to see Haruki Nakamura back on the field and playing extremely well. His injury last season was gruesome, so it’s great to see that he’s comfortable making plays. The mental aspect of an injury like that can be even more intimidating to a player than the pain of it.
All in all, it was a very preseason-esque performance. Some flashes of brilliance were countered with some sloppy play at times. The running game needs to improve greatly, but the passing game was the focus of tonight’s game and it went well. All three quarterbacks seemed comfortable with the system, and just to reiterate, Flacco was great.
The secondary was strong for the most part, but it was against one of the NFL’s worst group of quarterbacks. A good warm-up, albeit an easy one for the injury-ravaged secondary. The defense’s energy was great, and while I don’t want to beat a dead horse by continuing to praise them, the secondary looked excited and determined to have a good performance.
I’m feeling good about this team. Justin will have some perspective tomorrow, as he was at the game and had a different view of the action than I did. A good night in Baltimore, and a very nice start to the new football season.