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.
Lamar Jackson's first NFL start against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday will go down as one of the most memorable days of his career.
Going 13-of-19 for 150 yards in the air while rushing for 117 yards on 27 attempts is a pretty solid day for a rookie quarterback.
With several days to reflect, one of Jackson's favorite parts of the 24-21 win was the congratulatory texts he received from two former quarterbacks.
"I got a text from Doug Williams and Randall Cunningham congratulating me," Jackson said Wednesday. "So, that was pretty cool."
Williams, who became the first African-American quarterback to win a Super Bowl with the Washington Redskins in 1987, and Randall Cunningham, who had a long career with the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, and Ravens, are seen as trailblazers by Jackson.
The rookie QB noted that he has been in contact with the two prior to earning the starting job in Week 11.
"Those are the guys that paved the way for us," Jackson added.
"Without those guys, you know, we probably wouldn't be in the situation we are [in]. So, hats of to those guys. Them congratulating me, from the GOATS, I'm like, 'yeah, that's cool.'
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To the surprise of no one, former Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed is one step closer to Hall of Fame enshrinement.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Tuesday that Reed was named one of the 25 semifinalist for the 2019 class. Reed, cornerback Champ Bailey and tight end Tony Gonzalez are the only first-year eligible players that made the cut.
An obvious first-year ballot Hall of Famer, the next step in the selection process for Reed will take place on Thursday, January 3 when the semifinalist are cut down to 15 Modern-Era Finalist.
Finalist then must receive 80% positive vote from the Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee on "Selection Saturday," one day prior to Super Bowl LIII. No more than five Modern-Era Finalist can be elected in a given year. The finalist will be formally enshrined Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019 in Canton, Ohio.
The Ravens selected Reed in the first round of the 2002 NFL Draft, and he would go on to play 11 seasons with the organization. During those 11 seasons, he was voted to the Pro Bowl nine times, was a five-time First-Team All-Pro and started 159 of 160 games.
On the field, Reed had 61 interceptions for 1,541 yards and seven touchdowns. In addition, the safety raked up 11 forced fumbles and 13 fumbles recovered for 152 yards and two touchdowns. Not to forget a Super Bowl XLVII championship.
Reed's enshrinement would make him the third Raven in the history of the organization to be enshrined in his first-year of eligibility alongside linebacker Ray Lewis and offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden.
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