The Ravens lost to the Vikings 26-15 last Saturday night, and while most people say preseason games are useless, I think we came away with a better impression, good or bad, of what this team is going to look like come week 1.
The most impressive thing about the game was rookie RB Ray Rice. He improved from a disappointing game last week and turned in a really solid performance as the starting RB with Willis McGahee out with a knee injury. He ran 8 times for 77 yards and a TD. He also caught 3 passes for 17 yards.
I must admit, after the first preseason game, I was a little worried about Rice not hitting holes hard and breaking tackles. Those doubts have been erased when I saw Rice explode through holes and barrel through defenders. I still wish the Ravens had more at the RB position than just McGahee and Rice, and wouldn't be against them signing a Cedric Benson (as mentioned in an earlier post), but it does at least look like Rice can handle the load in McGahee's absence.
The QB battle hasn't really shaped up to be much of anything, with both Troy Smith and Kyle Boller struggling to find consistency in Cam Cameron's new offense.
On the bright side, Troy Smith did show some flash, eluding a sack and then scrambling for 17 yards on one play. He had 35 rushing yards on the night. Kyle Boller was his usual self, starting off well before spiraling down into terribleness. He completed his first 8 passes before 4 straight incompletions and the INT. Rookie Joe Flacco actually had some time to throw this game and fared the best out of the Ravens QB's. He went 10-15 for 75 yards, and put the team in position to tie the game late in the 4th quarter.
It does look like Smith is the guy at this point, due to his mobility behind an inexperienced (ie, weak) line, but he still needs to work on timing and accuracy. And that may have more to do with the WR's at this point. None of the WR's slated to make the team, outside of KR Yamon Figures, had a catch.
On the other side of the ball, The Defense was pushed around all night. They made Tavaris Jackson look like Fran Tarkenton, especially on Jackson's 23-yard TD pass in the first quarter. Granted, most of the first string wasn't starting, or didn't play for long, but it would have been nice to see even the non-starters on defense stop the weak-passing Vikings.
Overall it was a disappointing night. The Ravens were never really in the game beyond the first quarter and the highly-touted QB "battle" has become more of a ear-flicking contest.
From the looks of it, the 2008 season is going to be a long one.