Anquan Boldin reaches for the pylon on a 30 yard catch that resulted in a Ray Rice 1-yard touchdown.
Having missed preseason game #2, I entered the third game of this pre-season excited to get my best look at the Ravens before the start of the season since the third pre-season game is the closest it gets to the real thing. And since it was against the our neighbors to the south, the Washington Redskins, it made it a little more exciting than your standard pre-season game
What I saw was a mixed bag of positives and negatives that left me both excited and anxious about the 2011 season.
To start, Joe Flacco threw a boneheaded interception on a stop route that was picked off and returned for a touchdown by DeAngelo Hall. When he wasn't throwing interceptions, Flacco was under pressure as the offensive line collapsed regularly. But once the first quarter was over, and the Ravens were down 14-0, Flacco and the offense got going, and the positives started flowing.
Flacco hooked up with Anquan Boldin for gains of 18 and 30 yards on a drive that ended with a Ray Rice 1-yard TD run. On the next drive, Flacco connected with Ed Dickson for a 33 yard gain and scored on a perfectly thrown 35-yard bomb to newly acquired WR Lee Evans. After halftime, Flacco led the Ravens on their third scoring drive of the night, hooking up again with Boldin in the middle of the endzone.
Flacco ended his night on a high-note, 17-27, 219 yards, 2 TD and 1 INT.
Tyrod Taylor came in and played well for the second game in a row, further cementing the belief that Taylor can enter the season as Flacco's understudy. He finished 11-18 with 125 yards and a touchdown pass that won the game with just a few seconds left. RB Anthony Allen impressed yet again, exploding through holes with speed and power.
The pluses and minuses existed on defense as well, with DE Pernell McPhee recording a sack and fighting for a spot not only on the team, but as a possible impact player. The defensive line kept constant pressure on QB's Rex Gressoman and John Beck, but when they had time to throw, they exposed the Ravens secondary, namely Ladarius Webb and Jimmy Smith. Since Smith is a rookie, it's to be expected, but Webb hasn't looked the same since his injury. Although Webb ended the night good on paper -- recording a sack and an interception -- he was abused all night. The same can be said of Dominique Foxworth, who is also coming back from injury and looks less than ready.
In the end, the game was exciting for a pre-season game and the Ravens won 34-31 with seconds left on the clock. But the win was somewhat hollow since there were as many negatives as their were positives and when the hated Pittsburgh Steelers are looming on the horizon as your opponent in week 1, you want to be running on all cylinders. There's one more preseason game to go, but don't expect to see the starters much, if at all, as the coaches use the game to evaluate players on the bubble.
What you saw last night may look a lot like the team we see in 2011. And that can be a good thing, or a bad thing.
We'll just have to wait and see.