The Ravens took on the Saints in Week 4, the final week of the preseason. The starters took the week off, not wanting to risk an injury right before Week 1. With the 53 man roster needing finalized this weekend, the players fighting for a roster spot needed to take advantage of their last game opportunity to impress the coaches. An equally big story from this game was the debut of wide receiver Breshad Perriman. Perriman was the Ravens’ first round draft pick in 2015, but injuries have kept him off the field. I can speak for all Ravens fans in that I was more than excited to see what he could do.
The Ravens wanted to get Perriman involved, and they did it quickly. The first two plays from scrimmage were pass plays to Perriman amounting to 25 yards. The Ravens drive didn’t last, as a Ryan Mallett pass to Nick Boyle was knocked away by Saints starting safety Kenny Vacarro.
Facing the Saints starting offense, the Ravens’ second string defense fared well. The Saints were able to march (no pun intended) down the field with the majority of plays being relatively short gains. On one of the longer gains, Terrence Brooks made an impressive tackle on Saints running back Mark Ingram in the open field that saved at least another 10+ yards if not a touchdown. As has been a theme in the preseason, the defense solidified in the red zone, holding the Saints to just a field goal.
Chaos ensued on the kickoff after the field goal. Projected returner Michael Campanaro had an awful return, muffing the kick in the end zone, he picked it up and continued to run, but fumbled later in the return. Campanaro was able to fall on the ball, but did he just open the door for someone else?
Following Campanaro’s bad return, the Ravens went three-and-out and Sam Koch punted out of his own end zone.
The Ravens defense continued to have a hard time stopping the Saints from marching into the red zone (well almost, the drive stalled at the Ravens 22), despite multiple Saints penalties forcing them into long scenarios. The defense held serve there, forcing the Saints to another field goal.
Terrence Brooks continued to be all over the field on that drive. Making stops in the backfield as well as the open field. He was able to be the hard hitting saftey to stop the run, and be the enforcer at the back end of the defense. Well in this case, it really was just fixing others’ mistakes in coverage.
Following Michael Campanaro’s bad return, Chris Moore got an oppurtunity to return a kick, and did a spectacular job, bringing the ball out to the 36 after breaking out of a tackle.
The Ravens leaned on the pass, headlined by a 17 yard gain by wide receiver Chris Matthews, to drive down the field. Chris Moore was targeted twice on the drive, making one nice catch on the right sideline. Justin Tucker kicked a 46 yard field goal, and the Ravens got on the board.
Finally, the Ravens defense looked stout, forcing the Saints to punt after just four plays from scrimmage.
The Ravens got the ball back, and Josh Johnson took over at quarterback. The Ravens leaned on little known running back Stephen Houston on the drive. He caught two passes, and had four carries. He fumbled last week, but he seems to be making up for it as he as been productive tonight. Houston has done a great job gaining yards after the first contact. A third down drop by Perriman ended the drive. But Justin Tucker nailed another field goal, tying the game.
Stephen Houston is a little known player who made an impact, but even lesser known Michael Pierce made an even bigger impact. On the Saints first play sans receiving the kick, Pierce sacked Saints quarterback Luke McCown on the one yard line. McCown fumbled, and Pierce recovered the ball in the end zone for a scoop and score.
Multiple stops in the backfield as well as Saints penalties, pushed the home team deep into their own territory, and as a result, the defense forced a three-and-out.
Josh Johnson, for the second time this preseason, led a perfect two minute drill. The Ravens worked down the field, only using one timeout. Buck Allen and Chris Matthews also helped to lead the charge. Johnson overthrew Darren Waller in the end zone on a third-and-four. Justin Tucker kicked a field goal, and only :08 remained on the clock. Very well executed.
End of First Half
First Half Notes
- The offense, espeically quarterbacks, continued to reamin very efficient. Only seven total incompletions in the first half.
- The defense has been significantly better than in past weeks. The unit has done a much better job of getting the Saints off the field on third down, not missing tackles, and putting all kind of pressure in the backfield.
- The team has done a much better job with penalties
First Half winners
Terrance Brooks- Brooks had five total tackles had the half. That is very impressive. It was also impressive how he was seemingly everywhere on the field, and involved with every play.
Breshad Perriman- Despite a drop on a third down, the fact that he caught a pass is enough to make him a first half winner. After all he has gone through, seeing him show up on the stat sheet is awesome.
Defensive line- This unit did a great job of putting pressure on the quarterback, and stopping running backs for loss, especially in the second quarter. Michael Pierce’s scoop and score was the highlight of the unit’s first half, if not a top candidate for play of the preseason.
First Half losers
- Michael Campanaro- His spot as the starting kick returner is probably still solid, but the return in which he put the ball on the ground twice may have reopened the door. That was the absolute last thing that Campanaro wanted to do.
- Carl Davis- Davis went to the locker room with an ankle injury. Suffering an injury in Week 4 of the preseason sucks, and with Michael Pierce making a huge play, Davis may be moving toward the bubble. Davis’s spot is likely solid, but he hasn’t been overly impressive in the preseason. If Pierce continues to play well in the second half, Davis may have to sweat a little.
Start of Second Half
The Saints received the ball to start the second half, but didn’t do much of anything. The defense yet again got the Saints off the field quickly, this time on five plays.
The offense did not come out as hot as it was at the end of the first half. Josh Johnson was inaccurate, and the offense was bailed out by a few clutch third down conversions. Stephen Houston gained all 18 yards on third-and-18 by himself. The Ravens Pro-Bowl punter Sam Koch did his job to perfection, pinning the Saints within their own five yard line.
The Saints moved the ball 45 yards up the field before being forced to punt. It could have been a lot worse for the defense, as both Terrance Brooks and Will Davis respectively let a Saints receiver (Tommylee Jones both time) get behind them deep down the field. On the first occurrence, Jones dropped the pass, and the second time, Jones was overthrown, both probably should have been completions. The defense got very lucky. They also got unlucky, as undrafted rookie outside linebacker Victor Ochi strip-sacked Saints quarterback Garrett Grayson, but the Saints recovered the fumble.
The offense got back on track with another beautiful drive led by Josh Johnson. A 14 play drive, led by the run, burned almost eight and a half minutes off the clock. Stephen Houston rushed for 22 yards on the drive, and Chris Matthews added 29 more yards to his total for the game. A nice run by Josh Johnson on third down kept the drive alive, and the Ravens took advantage with a Josh Johnson run to the corner of the end zone, adding six more points for the road team. Johnson may not make the Ravens roster, but quarterback needy teams, *cough* Vikings *cough*, are sure paying attention.
Michael Pierce continues to make an impact with another sack, a flag however called it off. Despite it not counting, the sack is continuing to make his case for making the team. But a big gain by running back Marcus Murphy put the Saints into Ravens territory. Another big play moved the Saints to the Ravens one yard line. But the Ravens defense held serve with their backs to the wall yet again. The defense thought they were off the field after a dropped pass in the end zone, but a roughing the passer penalty on Willie Henry gave the Saints a new set of downs. The Saints took advantage of the new life, scoring on the next play. The Saints went for two points, and failed on a stuffed run up the middle.
Side note: Uhh... Appalachian State can’t be doing this again, can they?
The Ravens got the ball back and ran out the clock, winning the game.
End of Second Half
Second Half Notes
- Nothing vastly different from the first half. The Ravens regressed a little defensively, allowing a few more third down conversions and having a few more penalties. The two busted coverage’s weren’t great either. The offense remained very efficient.
Second Half Winners
- Chris Matthews- Matthews led the team with 64 yards, and reeled in all five of his targets. Josh Johnson liked throwing it to him a lot. Johnson also looked to Jeremy Butler and Chris Moore a good amount, but they didn’t produce enough numbers to be in the winners sections. Not that they played badly, but just not good enough.
- Brent Urban- Tied for the team lead with 5 solo tackles. Urban also had a sack. While not always getting to the quarterback, Urban was consistently in the backfield.
- Terrance Brooks- Brooks had one blown coverage. But he continued off of his strong performance in the first half. He will make the roster.
- Josh Johnson- Johnson won’t make the Ravens roster, but he looked very good yet again. Quarterback needy teams will be lining up to get him.
- Michael Pierce- Didn’t provide a huge play like in the first half, but he continued to disrupt the Saints offense.
Second Half Losers
- Will Davis- Davis had a major busted coverage
- Willie Henry- A penalty on fourth down that leads to a score is not particularly great. While Henry will probably make the team, I’m sure Henry has been keeping an eye on Michael Pierce’s play tonight.
- Keenen Reynolds- He didn’t play badly, but he just hasn’t produced enough to make the roster. Other receivers have shown up, while Reynolds has been a non-factor.
The Ravens finished a perfect 4-0 in the preseason, and move into the regular season with a lot of momentum.