23-3. That was the final score from this past Saturday’s Ravens vs. Redskins preseason match in Washington, D.C.. But don’t let the score fool you. The offense wasn’t as polished as they were a week ago. The Ravens’ first-team offense committed three fumbles. Joe Flacco was 9-16 for 72 yards, and had a QB rating of 67.0, nearly half of his preseason week #1 number of 127.1. Saturday’s game showed the other NFL teams that if you pressure Flacco early, you can rattle him, causing bad throws to his receivers. The Ravens always have Ray Rice to fall back on (even though he did fumble the ball twice), but it is necessary to develop the passing game of Joe Flacco to newcomers Anquan Boldin and Donte’ Stallworth if they want to keep playing at a high level.
Teams are trying to find the holes in the offensive line to get to Flacco. And with the injuries that the team has been suffering at the line, Flacco will have to figure out a way to get the ball out of his hands quickly. Failure to score TDs or lack of protection from the O-Line, causing an injury, could lead to the dreaded QB controversy, as Marc Bulger continues to play well during the preseason. (Jared Gaither, the line is missing you!)
9-7 was the Ravens’ record last year. And while most fans want to believe that the Ravens will just blow through every team this season, it is more likely that the Ravens will end up with the same record as last year, if not, maybe one better, 10-6. Cincinnati went undefeated within the division in 2009. A collapse doesn’t look like it’s going to happen with the Bengals, unless Terrell Owens makes one happen. Ravens’ fans only hope so. But there are a lot of tough teams in the League. And the Ravens won’t have to wait long for their first test. Week #1, they get the New York Jets, a team many experts believe will go to the Super Bowl this year. (My prediction: a rematch of Week #1 will happen in the AFC Championship Game this year).
And, oh yeah, a Fake Punt in the preseason??? Something tells me that the next time we see that one will be in the postseason, if they can get there. But the 51-yard run off a fake punt, by Haruki Nakamura, was the highlight of the night.
In looking back at this game, I began to wonder why the NFL doesn’t push for this feud to happen. Ravens vs. Redskins would sell out every time if presented more than just once every four years, not only in the stands, but on the televisions at home as well. However, I soon realized that it won’t happen because of one thing….MONEY!!! Baltimore and Washington are two distinct television markets that the NFL keeps separate to generate more revenue, not like what Oakland and San Francisco have. It’s the reason why you generally see only one or the other. And while the fans would love to have the games for bragging rights, the League would prefer that they order NFL RedZone or the NFL Sunday Ticket in order to see those games. It’s really a shame, as the possibility of showcasing these two teams, with their rabid fanbases fighting one another, on more than once every four years, would generate high ratings for whatever network would carry the game. But, I guess we will have to wait until a Super Bowl matchup between these two teams shows the League that the fans are ready for Ravens vs. Redskins.