If Week 3 of the preseason is viewed as an important test, then the Baltimore Ravens have passed it with flying colors. Last night they hammered the Jacksonville Jaguars 48-17 in one of the most lopsided preseason contests in franchise history.
Baltimore's 48 points are the most the franchise has ever scored in the preseason. And unlike the preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons, this game was never close. The Ravens' starters hammered the Jags' starters, as they were up 20-3 when Joe Flacco and company left the field.
It's tempting to focus mostly on the positive from games like these. After all, it's rare that a franchise will dominate so much in a preseason game, and there's a lot of players who deserve credit for the margin of victory.
Here in this recap, though, let's try to separate the good from the bad and see which Ravens were winners and losers from an individual standpoint Thursday night.
This was a great day to be a Ravens quarterback, with three of them combining for 450 passing yards and five passing touchdowns.
Joe Flacco, in particular, deserves praise for an outstanding game, where he looked completely in control as he finished the night 27-of-36 for 266 yards and two touchdowns. With two field goals and two touchdowns scored during his seven offensive yards, it would have been hard for Flacco to have a much better game.
Yet despite Flacco's success, I think that Tyrod Taylor deserves some credit for his performance during the third and fourth quarters. Flacco has played good throughout the preseason, so his night wasn't all that surprising.
That hasn't really been the case with Taylor this preseason. The last two games he put up great rushing statistics while struggling to throw the ball. Couple that with Curtis Painter's surprising performance in the last two preseason games and it was looking like Taylor's grip on the No. 2 quarterback position could be in danger.
Thursday night's performance may have made things safer for Taylor, as he finished 7-of-9 for 139 passing yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also continued to run well with four carries for 24 yards and a touchdown on an impressive 11 yard dash.
With this performance, Taylor showed that he can still be Flacco's primary backup and maybe keep the offense playing well should Flacco get injured.
Billy Cundiff did not play last night, as John Harbaugh opted to look at what he had from Justin Tucker. And apparently what Tucker had was pretty good. He made two field goals, including a lengthy 53-yarder, while also converting on all six extra points.
There can now be no denying that Tucker has had a great preseason. He's been making all the kicks and seems unfazed even when he has to kick from long distances. Tucker's performance throughout training camp and the preseason has shown that this is a real competition that he actually has a shot at winning.
That's got to feel terrible for Cundiff, who no matter what he says, has to feel like his confidence is shaken after how his season ended. Now to get no reps in the ever-important third preseason game really must hurt.
Cundiff will have to hope that he can take the kicks in the preseason finale next Thursday and that the Ravens will value his experience rather than Tucker's tremendous upside.
Both those teams have elite receivers who are matchup problems for just about anyone, so struggling against them can be somewhat understanding. Struggle against the inexperienced and no-name receivers on the Jacksonville Jaguars and it might be time to admit there's serious problems.
Thankfully that did not happen for the most part. Although Justin Blackmon concluded the game with four catches for 72 yards, he was mostly kept in check. He did not find the end zone either, as the Ravens' starting defense was dominant with only three points allowed through three quarters of play.
Lardarius Webb certainly deserves a lot of credit for the defense's showing tonight. He led the team with six tackles and didn't allow any big plays like in previous weeks. Both Jimmy Smith and Cary Williams struggled a bit; however, Webb's play lifted the team up and he showed last night why he is the team's No. 1 corner.
The worst part of any preseason game is when someone gets hurt. With the games meaning nothing in the standings, it's devastating to have the season end before it's properly begun. And sadly that's what has happened with Emanuel Cook.
Cook collided with a teammate while defending a kick return. He lay on the ground for a few minutes and was unable to return to his feet. Eventually he was carted off the field and taken to the locker room for x-rays.
Word has now come out that Cook is out for the rest of the season with a broken leg. Though not expected to start anywhere, Cook would have likely been a key contributor at the safety position, which is a place where the Ravens don't have too much depth.
Now his season is done and his positive showing at training camp was unfortunately all for nothing.
With the type of games both Joe Flacco and Tyrod Taylor had, almost every Ravens receiver looked good. Torrey Smith deserves commendation for a 100-yard receiving game that showed he's on the way to becoming a complete wide receiver. Also on the receiving end, Tommy Streeter finally showed up with a beautiful 33-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Bobby Rainey also showed up big time in the passing game. He had three catches for 73 yards, which included a 48-yard touchdown. He's now gone from unheard of rookie to a likely candidate for third-string running back and quite possibly the best find out of the undrafted rookies this season.
I liked the performance by all these players, but one guy who really stood out to me was LaQuan Williams. He had two grabs for 43 yards, including a great catch-and-run that went for 35 yards.
Williams has great hands and it's clear now that he's safe on the roster. For now I think he'll be the fourth-string receiver, but if free agent Jacoby Jones gets a case of the drops again, I could see Williams coming up to third-string receiver.
He's really proving to be a great player, and I think it's probable that he'll greatly improve upon his four receptions from last season.