Monday, August 31, 2009

Ravens over Panthers

The Ravens continued to roll in the preseason, improving to 3-0 with an impressive 17-13 win over the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night.

Take from a 3-0 preseason record what you will, but one thing is for sure, the offense looks like it's coming together in year 2 of Joe Flacco as QB and Cam Cameron as offensive coordinator.

Things got off to a shaky start, however, as the Ravens drove to the 1-yard line in their first possession of the game, thanks to several Flacco passes of 10+ yards to Derrick Mason and Kelley Washington, only to be backed up by consecutive penalties. And when they couldn't get into the endzone, Steve Hauschka missed a 27-yard field goal, leaving the kicking situation up in the air.

On the Panther's second drive, the Ravens demonstrated their "bend don't breal" defense, allowing the Panthers to drive downfield almost at will before being bottled up at the Ravens' 20-yard line. John Kasay kicked a FG to make the score 3-0 Panthers.

Then the Ravens picked right back up where they left off on their scoreless drive. Starting on their own 20-yard line, the Ravens gave the Panthers a steady dose of Ray Rice before Flacco connected with Washington again, this time for a 42-yard gain. Then after more Rice, Flacco threw a perfect TD pass to Todd Heap.

The next Panthers drive was a 3-and-out.

On the next Ravens drive, the Ravens previewed what we could be seeing a lot in 2009, Ray Rice as a receiver. He caught passes of 15 and 14 yards to kick off the drive, which eventually ended in a Willis McGahee TD run.

Before the starters left the game in the 3rd quarter, Flacco did drive the Ravens down for another Hauschka field goal attempt, which he did make this time. But when it was all said and done, the Ravens offense looked well-oiled and ready to steamroll their way over Kansas City's non-existent defense in week 1.

Flacco finished with 247 yards passing, 1 TD, 0 INT and a 115.3 QB rating.
Rice finished with 32 rushing yards and 67 receiving yards.
Mason finished with 71 receiving yards.
And Washington had 66 receiving yards.

And there you have it. Cam Cameron isn't afraid to call passing plays and Joe Flacco isn't afraid to spread the ball around the field to different receivers. I only hope they continue to pass as often as they have this preseason when the regular season begins.

Let's unleash Flacco on the NFL.

Keep in mind, this is all happening without Mark Clayton, who has yet to play a down in the preseason. When he comes back, it will be just another target for Flacco to work into this exciting offense. And Todd Heap, who'd been bothered with injuries and then had been busy blocking when healthy, finally factored into the offense again, hauling in that TD pass and then making a great catch, going up for the ball and then taking a tough shot before falling to the ground awkwardly in a now typical Heap fashion. He finished with 35 receiving yards and a TD.

The defense collected 2 sacks, and pressured Jake Delhomme well, but rookie RB Mike Goodson rushed well against the Ravens, one week after Jets RB Leon Washington carved up the Ravens pretty nicely too. However, Terrell Suggs has yet to play in the preseason, so hopefully the Ravens will be able to contain opposing RB's better than they have in the last 2 preseason games.

But all in all, it was an impressive showing by the offense, which might actually be asked to do more than kill the clock in 2009. And by the looks of it, they are chomping at the bit to do so.

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