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Flacco & Ravens Soaring After 3 Weeks of Preseason

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The Baltimore Ravens easily dismantled the N.Y. Giants Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium, winning 24-10.

Who Said the Ravens Are a Defensive Team?
It was the Ravens 1st-team offense that really shined. Yeah the defense played well, but I never found myself so excited to watch the offense play.

Throughout the years of being a Ravens fan, I always found myself looking forward to the defense stepping on the field to make plays and score points. But now, I just want the defense to hold their own and let the offense do the rest.

QB Joe Flacco went 21-34, passing for a total 229 yards and scoring 2 touchdowns. He connected once with Anquan Boldin at the goal line, and once more with Todd Heap on a similar route. And let me remind you that all of this was accomplished in just the 1st half of the game.

Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron did a great job calling the plays, especially during the no-huddle offense at the start of the game. Flacco looked poised under center and was able to keep his squad under control. There were a couple crucial 3rd-down conversions that Flacco completed to keep the offensive drives alive, but it was the4 th-down conversions that really kept the chains moving.

All in all, the 1st half was a thrilling game to watch. 34 pass attempts and only 8 rushing plays during Flacco’s time on the field. Sure, it’s wasn’t the traditional “Baltimore style of football” where the backs get 20-30 touches, but it’s hard to deny that it was exciting to watch. We all know there’s not much to worry about the Ravens’ run game, so I think Coach Cameron made a good decision to test Flacco with the ball.

Organized Chaos Started in Purple
Rex Ryan may no longer be in Baltimore, but that doesn’t mean the Ravens defense is no longer known as “organized chaos.”

The Ravens blitzed on almost every down, whether it be first-and-long or fourth-and-short. There were plenty of different looks and packages, all well-disguised before the snap. And for the third straight week, the Ravens brought heavy pressure and gave a tough time for quarterbacks; they were able to sack Giants QB Eli Manning 3 times in just the first half.

Most importantly, the Ravens secondary looked pretty good. Safety Haruki Nakamura made an amazing interception, cornerback Chris Carr led the team in tackles with 6 solos and 2 assists, and the secondary as a whole held Manning to just 63 passing yards, no touchdowns, and 1 interception.

I’m glad that Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison has started to use different approaches to the defensive scheme. Organized chaos is back where it all began.

Not Everything is Perfect
Sure there were a lot of positive things that happened for the Ravens in this 3rd preseason game, but there are still some issues to worry about. Here’s a quick list of some things to consider:

- Offensive line is slow to start. In the opening drive, the O-line failed to pick up a blitz and gave up a sack on Flacco. Then on the following drive, the O-line crumbled again causing Flacco to scramble and ultimately get sacked a second time. If the Ravens want to set a quick pace to the start of the game, then the O-line needs to be on the same page.

- Flacco sometimes inaccurate. Flacco has the arm, but sometimes his throws are a little off-target. One specific example is when Flacco threw behind Boldin on the first touchdown pass. Yeah Boldin caught the ball, but that’s only because he was so open that he could re-adjust himself to make the catch. Another crucial example was when he threw behind Boldin again, right before the end of the 1st half. Boldin was unable to draw it in and tipped the ball right into Giants CB Corey Webster’s hands, resulting in an interception. Flacco needs to work on leading his receivers so that they have space to make yards after catch and avoid costly mistakes.

- Where’s McGahee? RB Willis McGahee did not take a single snap the entire game. Is he injured? Perhaps he’s just getting some rest. The Ravens weren’t planning on running much anyway. Still, it would’ve been nice to see McGahee’s name on the field taking 1 or 2 carries.

- Sloppy tackling. I don’t know what was going on, but the 1st team defense just could not tackle. I won’t even mention names here because it was almost everyone that missed at least one tackle. The defense should make tackling drills a priority this week.

- Stallworth breaks his foot. The worst news for the Ravens in this game was WR Donte’ Stallworth breaking his foot. BaltimoreRavens.com reported that Stallworth will have a screw inserted into his foot and he could potentially return during [the Ravens'] bye weekend. Stallworth’s speed is essential to stretching opposing defenses down-field, so let’s pray for a speedy return.