Same Ol’ Bread and Butter Still Works

Five lessons learned from the Ravens’ 23-3 victory over the Washington Redskins.

Posted by Sarah Ellison on Sunday, August 22nd, 2010 at 12:55 am | Categories: Sarah Ellison

Same Ol’ Bread and Butter Still Works: Willis McGahee at the goal line, screen plays, Derrick Mason as the security blanket and a bend-but don’t-break defensive mentality were the sustaining elements in a lopsided 23-3 victory for the Ravens. The Ravens’ running backs are good. They just are. The team doesn’t need to be a pass-first offense. It just needs that one element that will push it over the top. Flacco-to-Boldin has been working throughout training camp, so don’t get too nervous that there were few fireworks between them tonight (aside from a 21-yard beauty). It’s only the second preseason game; let’s give them a chance to develop.

Ball Security Needs To Be Addressed: This isn’t an issue that’s lost on the Ravens. Several coaches and players admitted as much. We don’t want this to become a trend, however. I wouldn’t say two games is a trend yet, but a three-peat certainly would qualify. Against Carolina, Baltimore fumbled the ball four times, resulting in three turnovers. Four more fumbles against the ‘Skins this week – one ended in a turnover. Even when fumbles don’t become turnovers, it stalls offensive production.

Pass Protection Held Up: Did you notice the offensive line Saturday night? Yeah, me neither. At least not until I looked back at my pregame notes and remembered pass protection was supposed to be a big story heading into the game. It’s always a good thing when you hear little to nothing about the offensive line. It was even without right tackle Jared Gaither or his backup, Oniel Cousins. Michael Oher bounced back from a shaky performance and successfully protected quarterback Joe Flacco from Brian Orakpo, who notched 11 sacks last season for Washington. And a shout-out to Tony Moll for filling in admirably. The unit surrendered two sacks after six in the preseason opener.

Live and Die By The Blitz: It was fun watching Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison bring the pressure and revive the blitz a little bit – four sacks for a loss of 36 yards, two quarterback forced fumbles and recoveries and seven quarterback hits. But you have to take the good with the bad. The Ravens’ defense had Donavan McNabb bottled up on several third downs, but McNabb’s veteran pocket poise helped him elude pressure and he was able to convert first downs. We’ll never know how that little game of cat-and-mouse would have played out since the ones didn’t play the full four quarters. After McNabb, Rex Grossman really wasn’t able to get anything going against the second-team defense.

Bubble Player Standouts: We’ll have to build this out more as coverage of Saturday’s victory continues, but what’s a preseason game without making mention of a few bubble player standouts: cornerback Cary Williams (second interception in as many games), linebacker Jason Phillips (a rookie on 2009′s injured reserve returns to notch a sack, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries), safety Ken Hamlin (showing playmaking ability with an interception) and receiver David Reed (badly needed his four receptions for 38 yards).

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