In what could only be described as a two-faced performance from the Baltimore Ravens, the easiest thing to notice was Joe Flacco acting like the all-commanding Super Bowl MVP he is on some drives and making the simplest of mistakes on others, showing he’s not quite ready to be the perfect quarterback some expect him to be.
The Ravens lost to the Carolina Panthers 34-27, their first loss in this preseason as Flacco finished with 18-of-24 for 169 yards, throwing one touchdown pass and two interceptions.
The game began with a touchdown drive, as Ray Rice took a one yard run into the endzone. Flacco had another touchdown drive in the third quarter, ending with a 24-yard touchdown pass to Marlon Brown. In those two drives combined, he was 8-of-8 for 82 yards. On the two interception drives?
The first interception wasn’t his fault. Tandon Ross ran the wrong route and got an earful after Drayton Florence returned it 71-yards for a touchdown. The second interception was completely on Flacco. Kuechly, probably the best player on the field, read the play right from the start and picked off Flacco’s pass, which resulted in another field goal for the Panthers. Flacco was 10-of-16 during those two interception drives.
Flacco called it miscommunication, which is pretty typical for this stage of the preseason. There are new faces and players on an offense that actually only began its new road in the middle of last season. It did end in a Super Bowl, but Flacco in the playoffs isn’t the same guy who’s trying to learn and tech during the preseason.
One of the bright spots is undrafted rookie Marlon Brown, who seems to be very much in sync with Flacco, finishing the game with 4 catches for 59 yards, which probably makes him the number 3 wide receiver, if not more, in the leading trio that also includes Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, who combined for 2 catches and 15 yards.
The running game? Bernard Pierce had one fumble that was picked up for a touchdown, and had an overall bad night with 7 yards on only 10 carries. Ray Rice did much better, getting 16 carries to finish with 62 yards, and it might be going to be a little bit longer before there’s actually a changing of the guard at the position with many thinking Rice is on his way down after a few very productive years in scrimmage.
The defense, despite the loss, allowed only 6 points. They got to Cam Newton three times, and the Panthers’ starting offense was held to only 104 yards on three quarters of play. Daryl Smith continues to be the most consistent performer for the Ravens in the preseason on defense with three tackles and a third-down sack on Cam Newton, while the defensive tackles, especially Marcus Spears and Terrence Cody.
The Super Bowl champions are carrying a different feel to them this season. Less experienced and younger, but with plenty of confidence that their personnel and financial overhaul this summer is going to keep them on top of the AFC North. If Joe Flacco will be a bit more consistent, they should have every reason to feel confident about that.