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Ravens vs. Titans Preseason Week 1: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Tennessee Titans v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

With their 23-10 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night, the Baltimore Ravens’ preseason win streak extended to 21 consecutive games. A competitive first half gave way to the Ravens’ dominating the final two quarters of play, winning by double digits.

Here’s a breakdown of the good, bad, and ugly developments from Week 1 action of the preseason.

The Good

Backup quarterbacks

Tyler Huntley played the entire first half and was sharp. He completed all but two of his 18 pass attempts for 109 yards and a touchdown pass. He also added 17 rushing yards to his stat line with a passer rating of 110.4. He didn’t make a ton of downfield throws but was efficient and navigated multiple scoring drives.

Anthony Brown, an undrafted free agent out of Oregon, took over for Huntley and played the majority of the second half. He completed 10 of 15 throws for 117 yards and scrambled for 14 more. Brown’s chances of making the roster are slim-to-none, but this was a strong opening audition for a practice squad spot.

Brett Hundley only attempted two throws but completed both of them for 42 yards. Huntley is entrenched as Lamar Jackson’s backup, but it was encouraging to see the rest of the depth chart play well too.

Young pass-catchers

Tylan Wallace’s early injury opened the door for some of the team’s undrafted wide receivers to produce. Shemar Bridges shined with four receptions for 62 yards and a highlight-reel touchdown grab in the second quarter. Bridges was the the team’s leading receiver and may have taken an early lead in the competition for the final wideout spot.

Makai Polk, another UDFA wideout, caught a team-high six receptions for 43 yards, and Binjimen Victor reeled in four catches for 30 yards. All eyes were on Isaiah Likely in the first half, and for good reason. The rookie tight end and training camp standout caught four passes for 44 yards including an impressive contested catch.

Wallace’s exit and Jaylon Moore’s quiet night were disappointing, but the Ravens should be encouraged by what they saw from the rest of the group.

Offensive line play

Across the board, this was a strong performance from the offensive line. Ja’Wuan James played well at left tackle in his first game action since 2019. Rookie Daniel Faalele held up well in extended action on the right side and had a couple notable moments as a “mauler.”

Tyre Phillips again played a heavy dose of snaps at both guard and tackle, performing better at the former. Ben Cleveland had some nice moments as well, as did Ben Powers — who took some snaps at center in the second quarter.

James’ strong showing is especially encouraging. He’s been operating as the team’s primary left tackle in Ronnie Stanley’s absence and made a position switch to that spot. If he can continue playing well over the next two preseason games, the Ravens can feel much better about the insurance they have behind Stanley.

Forcing turnovers

One of the biggest areas the Ravens took a step back in during the 2021 season was forced turnovers. If Thursday night was any early indication, they should improve in this facet.

Linebacker Malik Harrison forced a fumble on the Titans’ second offensive drive of the game, which rookie first-rounder Kyle Hamilton recovered. This setup a quick touchdown drive for the offense. Then, defensive backs Geno Stone and Daryl Worley each came up with an interception in the third quarter on back-to-back drives. The Ravens scored field goals off both of them.

Stone especially had a strong performance, but Worley’s interception was impressive considering he just re-joined the team only a few days ago. All in all, the Ravens’ defense forced three turnovers and turned them into 13 points — a recipe that spells success more often than not.

Special teams play

In his first game as the Ravens’ new punter, rookie Jordan Stout impressed. The Penn State product punted four times and totaled 191 yards on them. He also handled kickoff duties and showed off good leg strength there, as well.

Stout was the holder for each of Justin Tucker’s three field goal makes, the longest coming from 47 yards out. This connection will be important in the regular season, as Tucker and Sam Koch were in lock-step for many years. Stout looked plenty capable of picking up right where the veteran left off.

Elsewhere, Damarion “Pepe” Williams returned his lone punt for 27 yards, and fellow rookie Tyler Badie turned two kickoff returns into 46 combined yards. It’s no surprise to see the Ravens’ special teams in regular season form.

The Bad

Holding penalties

While he shined as a pass-catcher, Likely showed he has a ways to go as a blocker. He was flagged for two holding penalties on back-to-back drives in the first half. They both occured on third downs and both of which negated long first-down rushes, ultimately resulting in the Ravens punting the ball away.

They also both occured with Likely blocking an edge defender on an outside run, so it’s clear where the area for improvement is. Tyre Phillips was also flagged for a holding call in third quarter on 2nd-&-10, which set the Ravens back on a potential touchdown drive.

Dropped interceptions

Although the Ravens’ defense did force three turnovers, it very easily could have been four — with a pick-six, too. Willis’ second pass attempt of the game, on just the third play from scrimmage, was to a receiver running an out-route. Pepe Williams jumped the route perfectly and broke on the ball, but the pass glanced off his hands.

If Williams corralled it, he had open grass in front of him along the sideline and may have been looking at a house call. His pass breakup still forced the Titans to punt, but these sort of dropped interceptions were a reoccurring theme at times for Baltimore’s defensive backs in 2021.

They’ll want to capitalize on as many opportunities to come up with turnovers as possible in the regular season, especially when opposing quarterbacks gift them an interception like Willis did on this play.

The Ugly

Giving up big plays

Allowing only 10 points is a strong defensive performance in any scenario. There were a couple moments in the first half, though, that defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald would probably like to have back.

On Malik Harris’ 7-yard touchdown run, he was able to evade the Ravens’ all-out blitz and scramble out left into the endzone. It was an elusive play by Harris, but Hamilton also took a poor angle as the free blitzer on the play. The touchdown just as easily could have been a sack and forced a third-and-long scenario.

That same drive included Tennessee gains of 12, 29, and 18 yards, some of which was the result of missed tackling. The ensuing Titans’ possession began with Willis hitting Racey McCath deep for a 48-yard pass. Kevin Seymour was in coverage on the play and got lost while turning his head as the ball came McCath’s way.

These are teachable moments, but also preventable mistakes that Macdonald and the Ravens will want to leave behind in the preseason.