It was an inauspicious start to the preseason for the Ravens on Thursday night against the Atlanta Falcons.
A grand total of zero first downs and nine yards in the first quarter for a sputtering first-team offense as quarterback Joe Flacco absorbed some punishing hits from blitzing linebackers.
Imposing Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones caught six passes for 109 yards and a touchdown as quarterback Matt Ryan targeted cornerback Cary Williams during his first game back from offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right hip.
And the special teams broke down and didn't stay in their coverage lanes as punter Sam Koch was forced to deliver a touchdown-saving tackle on Dominique Franks following a 45-yard return.
It was reminiscent of last season when the Ravens allowed two punts for touchdowns as well as a 107-yard kickoff return for another score.
Although the Ravens ultimately manufactured a 31-17 win at the Georgia Dome, that was built through the reserves as third quarterback Curtis Painter threw three touchdown passes after halftime.
Nonetheless, Ravens coach John Harbaugh expressed confidence that the mistakes are fixable after reviewing and grading the game tape. The Ravens play the Detroit Lions at M&T Bank Stadium this Friday.
"All of it was correctable.," Harbaugh said Saturday at team headquarters. "It’s all that stuff that’s a fine
line. There is a fine line between three-and-out and making a first down and building a little momentum. The thing we were unable to do with the ones in the first quarter that was disappointing was: get a first down and generate momentum, or get a third-down stop. Either one of those things changes that
"That’s what football is. So, that’s something we have to work on. Our front-line guys have practiced very well. I don’t think we performed, in terms of making plays on the ball or converting to get those
first downs, as well as we have in practice. That’s something we need to take to the field. Obviously, the rest of the guys did do that really well. So, it’s good for us. It’s good for us to know that, and we’ve got some work to do."
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