In every game, there is always the good, the bad, and the ugly. In this one, there was a little more bad and ugly than there was good, but that's okay, it's only preseason.
- Daryl Smith, major candidate for starting MLB, shined once again in Thursday's game. After a five-tackle, one pass-defensed game in Tampa Bay, Smith took the field in Baltimore with the same mentality, and he didn't miss a beat. Daryl Smith was all over the place, doing his job. He ended the game with six tackles and one pass defensed, one of the best defensive performances for the Ravens on Thursday.
- Torrey Smith caught a 77-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco on a perfectly ran slant route. This was the only highlight play from the offense in the first half, since they played pretty badly the rest of the half. Smith currently leads the league in receiving yards this preseason with 101. He has four receptions, along with a touchdown.
- Rookie wide receiver Aaron Mellette continued to look great in Thursday night's game. Last Thursday against the Buccaneers, Mellette had one reception for 21 yards and a touchdown. Against the Falcons, Mellette had 1 reception for 40 yards and a touchdown. He looks to have a bright future with the Ravens, as long as he can keep it up. He currently has the most receiving touchdowns for the Ravens this postseason.
- Second-year cornerback Asa Jackson lit up the field last night with his play. Jackson was hitting guys at the correct times, covering fairly well, and returning well. The highlight of Jackson's night was the 78-yard punt return that he ran back in the fourth quarter to give the Ravens the 27-23 lead. He got the ball and ran it up field as fast as possible, and after seeing that, I am more than impressed by Asa Jackson. He finished the night with 7 tackles and a punt return touchdown.
- Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor looked shaken up in the third quarter, acting like he wasn't sure what to do. He was slipping and sliding, not throwing accurate passes, and not looking like he was last week. In the fourth quarter, he came alive. He threw two touchdown passes to put the Ravens down by three, and that ended up being the complete winning formula for the Ravens. Taylor finished the night 5/9 with 83 passing yards, two touchdowns, one interception, and 15 rushing yards on five carries.
- Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil, the deadly pass rush that is the talk of Baltimore, showed how dangerous they can be when getting after the quarterback. Multiple times, Suggs and Dumervil pressured the quarterback into throwing passes he didn't want to, but they would be caught anyway, a lot of the time. One play, Dumervil crashed through the Falcons offensive line and was coming straight for Matt Ryan, but Ryan got away just before Dumervil threw him to the ground for the sack.
- Third-year cornerback Jimmy Smith may have been the lowlight of the night. Smith could not cover any receiver to save his life, and Julio Jones had a very fun time taking advantage of him, while grabbing three balls for 55 yards and a touchdown. If Jimmy Smith wants to be a starter on this team, he will need to play better football. Watching Smith last night was horrible for my eyes, and it was not a pretty sight whenever a receiver caught a ball easily over him.
- The center battle is well underway in Baltimore, as Gino Gradkowski and A.Q. Shipley battle for the starting center position. Shipley started last night, but didn't do a very good job. He had penalty after penalty, he wasn't blocking correctly, and it was a big mess. After Gradkowski's quality start and Shipley's not-so-quality start, the center battle has a chance of being completely over. Only Head Coach John Harbaugh will be able to tell us that.
- The entire offensive line was very poor on Thursday. The Ravens' run game was getting stopped every single play, and nothing was going right in the passing game either. The Ravens had a total of 61 rushing yards, along with four rushing plays that ended up in a loss of yards. Ray Rice, who was in with the starters, had 10 yards off of eight rushing attempts. If that doesn't look like a terrible stat, then I don't know what is.
- Joe Flacco isn't looking like himself this preseason. So far, he has gone 14/18 with 175 yards, one touchdown, and two interceptions in the two preseason games that the Ravens have played. Don't let that one touchdown and 77 of those yards fool you, because that was the 77-yard touchdown to Torrey Smith, where Joe Flacco basically passed it ten yards, Smith caught it, and the rest was all about Smith's speed and agility. Joe Flacco has thrown an interception in each of the two preseason games, and that needs to change before the start of the regular season.
- The offense had three first downs in the first half. The first have consisted of the starting offense against the Falcons starting defense, which means that the Ravens struggled to move the chains at all in the first half. In the second half, with the backups, the Ravens got ten first downs, but that still doesn't reflect on Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, and the rest of the starting offense. The offense as a whole needs to play better if the Ravens want to win against actual starting defenses when the season rolls around.
- Where was LaQuan Williams? The superstar from last week who was a monster on special teams, along with a beast receiver while on offense. Williams did not catch a pass on offense, he didn't make an impact on special teams, and he basically played the role he did all last year; not being noticed by anyone, while not doing anything at the same time. LaQuan Williams not catching a pass was half on the quarterback, while half was on him. Williams didn't run his route correctly in the red zone at one point, which resulted in a Tyrod Taylor interception.
- The Ravens' starting defense, minus a few, played awfully as well. The defense could not stop the pass, could not stop the run, and just couldn't stop the offense from scoring. At halftime, the Ravens were down 20-7, which shows that neither the defense, nor the offense, played a good first half.
Let's just say that this entire game was ugly. The Ravens starters got crushed by the Falcons starters, which is the main thing that matters. The Ravens defense let the Falcons get 27 first downs, 170 rushing yards, and 252 passing yards. The Ravens offense got 13 first downs, 61 rushing yards, and 188 passing yards. The Falcons offense outplayed the Ravens offense, while the Falcons defense outplayed the Ravens defense.
If it wasn't for Asa Jackson's special teams heroics, the Ravens would be 1-1 in the preseason right now. Remember, Asa Jackson won't be playing until Week 9 of the regular season, so that special teams presence will be gone, as well.
The Ravens need to improve on so many levels, which means they will most likely have a tough week of practice ahead of them. We'll see if the Ravens play better when they take on the Carolina Panthers in Baltimore on ESPN next Thursday.