Baltimore Ravens fans ought to be happy with what they saw on the first offensive drive of the 2014 preseason. After a bad showing defensively on the first drive allowing the 49ers to move inside the Ravens 10-yard line and take a 3-0 lead, the Ravens responded with a beautifully executed drive.
Although Ray Rice only sprinted for five yards on his first carry, he showed close to the same quickness that he had last year, which is music to fans’ ears. On second down, Joe Flacco hit Dennis Pitta on a beautifully-executed screen pass for 14 yards. Four plays later, Flacco completed a 17-yard pass to Kyle Juszczyk, who is a player that Ravens fans will be happy to see perform well. He would finish the game with three catches for 28 yards.
After Steve Smith‘s first reception as a Raven, Bernard Pierce ran into the end zone from two yards out to give the Ravens a 7-3 lead. Rice finished the drive with two six-yard runs and one five-yard rush – carrying three times for 17 yards on the day.
That was Flacco’s first and last drive of the game, as backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor took over for the rest of the second half. He orchestrated a nice drive in his first set, starting the drive off with a 27-yard rush. It resulted in a Justin Tucker field goal. Tucker would tack on an additional 42-yard field goal later in the quarter to give the Ravens a 13-3 lead going into halftime.
Just a note from the first half: After a terrible showing on defense in the first drive for the Ravens, where rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley got beat one or two times, the starters stayed in for one more set. In their second try, the defense performed much better, forcing the 49ers to punt. That drive however was led by backup quarterback Blain Gabbert and not Collin Kaepernick. The second team defense didn’t allow a point in the second quarter, so maybe some young guys will get opportunities for the start of the regular season.
Backup quarterback has been, and continues to be, a concern for the Ravens as Tyrod Taylor did not look good for the most part in this game. In the first drive of the second half, he threw an interception to 49ers cornerback Chris Cook.
The Ravens backup defenders looked really good in the last three quarters of this game. After Asa Jackson picked off a Blain Gabbert pass in the second quarter, defensive tackle D’Angelo Tyson forced and recovered a fumble. Rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro also looked impressive, using his big body to pile up some yardage.
With 2:17 to go in the third quarter, Legatron (Justin Tucker) struck again, hitting a 55-yarder to give the Ravens a 16-3 lead. Taylor actually rebounded from a bad start to lead the Ravens down the field on a few occasions. In the final quarter, he led a 75-yard drive topped off by a 7-yard touchdown pass to undrafted rookie free agent Jeremy Butler, whom I projected to be one of the last four players to make the Ravens roster a couple of weeks ago.
Taylor took over at the end of the first quarter and played until the 5:26 mark of the fourth. He ended the day completing 13-of-21 passes for 116 yards throwing one touchdown and one interception, as well as five rushes for 59 yards.
Dominique Franks topped off a terrific performance by the defense with an interception of third-string quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson. The defense didn’t allow a single point to go up on the scoreboard after the first drive. Keth Wenning did get one offensive drive at the end of the game, but they didn’t let him throw the ball.
Rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro ended the day carrying the ball 13 times for 71 yards as the Baltimore Ravens beat the 49ers 23-3 and move to 1-0 in the 2014 preseason.
Tags: Baltimore Ravens