Saturday night the Ravens easily handled the Redskins in Washington, coming away with a 23-3 victory in their second preseason game.
Overall, the game was a bit sloppy on both sides, something fans should expect in the preseason. But there were some positives on both sides of the ball.
Ravens fans spent the entire offseason worried about the secondary, and then Foxworth went down in the first week of camp to a season ending ACL injury.
Based on the first two games, I'll go out on a limb and say it: There's no need to worry.
Yes, they give up too many yards. Yes, they gave up too many long third down plays. But the defense kept those long plays out of the end zone, and the Ravens may have the best red zone defense in the league. They also came away with two interceptions.
They gave up 365 yards in the air, and only allowed a field goal. That's not a bad statistic, and it's a great ratio. They will apply a 'bend, don't break' philosophy at the beginning of the year, until they get Webb and Reed back.
The Ravens held the 'Skins to 25 yards rushing, and to less than two yards per carry. Teams will have to break the secondary to win, and given this stout run defense, it will be very difficult to score touchdowns once close to the end zone. Expect to see a lot of short field goals against the Ravens this year.
The defense has given up one touchdown in two games, and only 15 points. Yes, it's just the preseason. But it looks like this defense will be a force.
David Reed had a standout performance, with four receptions for 38 yards, as well as making a couple of solid special teams plays. I think he'll make the team.
Marc Bulger also had a great night, going 13 for 16 and having a QB rating of a little over 100. He looks confident in the pocket and has an outstanding release. The Ravens can be confident they have a very good backup QB, and it's pretty clear he's going to have that role. Smith played better than last week, but I still think he's going to be the third QB, and will see little if any playing time this year.
While Troy Smith was in, they ran what looked like a lot of options, which may be a sign of some trickery to come - Flacco isn't as speedy as Smith, but he's got the athleticism to pull off some of those plays.
Speaking of trickery, the fake punt was an outstanding call, and what an individual effort by Haruki Nakamura. His move at the line of scrimmage to fake out the linebacker is what made that play work. It's good to know the Ravens have that kind of talent on special teams.
Even the patchwork first team offensive line played fairly well.
All in all, a pretty solid performance. Penalties weren't an issue, and the Ravens made it through another game without injuries.
Based on what they have shown during the preseason, there is no reason to doubt the Ravens will contend this year.
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