It was only the first quarter of the first preseason game, but the results were pretty alarming: The Falcons moved effortlessly down the field on their first possession, an eight-play, 80-yard scoring drive in which Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan picked part the Ravens defense, particularly going after cornerback Cary Williams.
The Ravens, meanwhile, established nothing offensively in the first quarter, with three straight three-and-out series.
Total offense in the first quarter: Atlanta 186, Ravens 4.
And this was with the starters from both teams on the field.
OK, a lot of caveats: Linebacker Ray Lewis didn't play at all, and neither did center Matt Birk. The Ravens started two rookies on the offensive line, a good learning experience for them, to be sure, but perhaps not a great barometer to assess the overall offensive line.
"The first quarter was not good at all," coach John Harbaugh said afterward. "We couldnt catch the ball or establish the run game. They did a great job against our defensive scheme. (Matt Ryan) took his offense right down the field against us a couple times, which was disappointing. They made some plays against us on both sides of the ball. They definitely have some playmakers on their team. As a unit, we have lots to look at and lots to improve upon."
The question now is how much better the Ravens can be Friday night in the preseason home opener against Detroit.
To be sure, Detroit game counts exactly zero in the standings. What matters isn't the score of the game, but how this team continues to evolve as the season opener on Sept. 10 draws nearer.