More importantly than the final score, the Ravens left FedEx Field in Landover, MD fairly healthy. According to John Harbaugh, wideout Demetrius Williams rolled an ankle in the second quarter, but that shouldn’ limit him in practice this week. Ultimately the Ravens beat the Washington Redskins 23-3 in a game that was probably more noted for how it dragged on in the second half than anything else. Although the Ravens won the game, it’s preseason…this game left much to be desired on the part of the Ravens. They put three fumbles on the ground in the first half; the coaching staff might want to spend some time on hanging onto the ball this week in practice. However, quarterback Joe Flacco completed 9-16 pass attemps although he only had 72 yards. I thought the Redskins were the team that used the West Coast offense?!
Defensively the Skins were able to complete some big plays on the Ravens’ defense. Coming out of last season the secondary was a big question mark, and with Dominique Foxworth out for the year that continues to be the case. On the Redskins’ opening drive of the game Donovan McNabb was able to complete a 45-yard home run ball downfield to Anthony Anderson, who ran under the slightly underthrown pass to make an amazing catch. The play saw the Ravens getting caught in a cover-two defense, which they might not want to continue playing if that’s going to be the result. One thing that was fairly impressive was the Ravens’ red zone defense, which tightened to hold the Redskins to a field goal. McNabb also hooked up with tight end Chris Cooley as well as wide receiver Santana Moss on numerous occasions throughout the first half to move the chains on Redskin drives. However the Redskin offensive line, which looked fairly good last week against Buffalo, seemed to wilt under the pressure of the Ravens’ defense. McNabb found himself getting knocked around on several occasions; right before halftime they even caused a rushed McNabb to commit an intentional grounding penalty. Overall, the Redskins put up three points in the game, which means that the defense played well.
One thing that we do have to keep in mind is that it’s preseason. Admittedly I’m a firm believer in the preseason system in the NFL, as I think these games all serve a huge purpose. There are certainl aspects of any sport which cannot be mastered in practice, such as timing with receivers if you’re a quarterback, or running a route through a defensive secondary. So when I hear people talk about shortening the preseason, first off I tell them that they’re going to see two or three weeks of bad football in the newly elongated regular season. However that would also mean that coaches would have less time to evaluate their players in games. Traditionally the fourth week has always been the game where the starters play very sparingly, givng coaches the chance to see the reserves for most of the game. That wouldn’t be the case if there were only two preseason games. That aside, odds are that had this been a regular season game the play calls would have been different at various stages of the game, so who knows what the final score would have been. When players and coaches get ready for a game, their main goal is always to win (preseason or regular season). However I think that John Harbaugh’s probably happier with the fact that they came out of the game with just a few nicks than he is with the final score.