ATLANTA When rookie safety Omar Brown came to the Ravens sideline after the second of the three turnovers he grabbed Thursday night, head coach John Harbaugh stopped him.
Youre trying to make this team, arent you? Harbaugh asked.
Yes, sir, said Brown, who signed with the Ravens as an undrafted free agent after playing at Marshall.
Harbaugh could have paid the same compliment to running back Bobby Rainey and receiver Deonte Thompson, two other rookies trying to make the Ravens as longshots after not hearing their names called in the 2012 draft.
Rainey, Thompson and Brown combined to deliver the key plays that brought the Ravens from behind to a 31-17 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in their preseason opener at the Georgia Dome.
After the Ravens starters fell flat early, falling behind 14-0 in the first 16 minutes, the teams reserves outscored Atlanta, 31-3, over the rest of the game. Brown grabbed an interception and recovered two fumbles as the rally unfolded. Thompson scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 22-yard pass from No. 3 quarterback Curtis Painter, and Rainey delivered the knockout blow, zig-zagging 18 yards with a screen pass for another score.
Its going to be interesting to see if those guys continue to make those kinds of plays, Harbaugh said.
Brown said it was his first three-turnover game since high school. Thompson led the Ravens receivers with three catches for 53 yards. Rainey totaled 64 yards on 15 rushing and receiving touches.
I came into this league with a chip on my shoulder, said Rainey, who rushed for more than 4,500 yards in four seasons at Western Kentucky. It was exciting to get to the end zone in my first game.
Rainey is competing with rookie Bernard Pierce and second-year backs Anthony Allen and Damien Berry for the job of backing up Ray Rice, and he won this first game easily. (Pierce was out with a hamstring injury). Aside from his time on offense, he also served as the Ravens punt returner.
He did the same things that hes been doing in practice, Harbaugh said.
Thompson, who played at Florida, wore out the Falcons backup defensive backs, who simply couldnt cover him.
With the score tied 17-17 late in the third quarter, the Ravens drove 80 yards for a touchdown in three plays, and Thompson was responsible for most of the yardage. First, he got open deep and drew an interference penalty. One play later, he broke open again and reeled in a perfect pass from Painter.
A few minutes later, Painter connected with Rainey for the last of his three touchdown passes.
That was all him (Rainey). Hats off to those guys. Its what theyve been showing (through) all of camp, Painter said.
Harbaugh was happy to get the win but concerned about the slow start.
It was obvious in the first half that we have a lot of things to work on. Really, we need to be better on offense, defense and special teams, Harbaugh said. There were times we played like Ravens, but we were not consistent.
The Ravens first-team offense opened with three straight three-and-out series before quarterback Joe Flacco finally led a touchdown drive early in the second quarter.
We knew we were going to get tested by a very good pass rush team, on the road and on (artificial) turf. Once we settled down, we did OK, offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said.
Its preseason, and it took us a little while to get going, Flacco said. Weve got to look back at some of those plays, because the Falcons got a couple good pressures. We completed the passes early on, but they werent quite enough yards for us to stay on the field. There are a lot of things we can do better on third down in terms of recognizing the man coverage and trying to break away a little bit. But on that last drive, it was good to get into a rhythm and get it going a little bit.
Meanwhile, the Ravens first-team defense was shredded by Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan, who completed nine of 13 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns in just 16 minutes.
Our coverage wasnt what we wanted in the first half, and well tighten that down, defensive coordinator Dean Pees said. Our communication could be better, and that will come. Weve practiced better than we showed early in the game.
The Ravens next preseason game is against the Detroit Lions on Aug. 17 in Baltimore.
Harbaugh said tight end Ed Dickson might miss a couple of weeks with a sprained shoulder, dealing another blow to the teams depth at that position. Dennis Pitta is already out with a broken hand.
Harbaugh also said defensive lineman Ryan McBean, who left the field on the back of a cart, might have a broken ankle.