On this past Thursday, the Baltimore Ravens defeated our hometown Atlanta Falcons by the score of 27-23 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Atlanta lost the game in the 4th Quarter with a furious comeback by the reserves for the Ravens. However, the Falcons’ starters accomplished a great deal in their short time of play. Matt Ryan went 8 of 15 for 97 yards and a touchdown to Julio Jones. Jones along with that touchdown had 3 receptions for 55 yards including a 32 yard catch. The Falcons Offense put up 20 points in the first half against the starting unit of the Ravens, which despite losing two future Hall of Fame Candidates in Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, are still quite formidable. The Offensive Line which was much maligned in the opening preseason game for Atlanta against Cincinnati Bengals played much better this game.
Newly installed Center Peter Konz more than held his own against the force of Haloti Ngata, perennial Pro-Bowl Defensive Tackle for the Ravens. Garrett Reynolds and Lamar Holmes played better, looking more in tune with what the offense wants to establish. Steven Jackson was also a beneficiary of this new found continuity, finishing with 42 yards on 8 carries. The Atlanta Falcons Offense was quite efficient as well, running 21 plays in comparison to 7 for Baltimore in the first quarter. Defensively, the Atlanta Falcons looked out of place early, giving up the 77 yard scoring strike on the “Slant” Pattern from Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith and then Smith outran “Dirty Bird” defenders to paydirt. Afterwards the Atlanta Defense settled down and looked much improved, holding Baltimore to three 1st downs and 13 yards rushing. Despite the improved play the Falcons need to concentrate on the following;
1. Roddy White was injured early in the game. Reports say that it is not a serious injury but rest for him in imperative. This injury also gives an opportunity to see what you have behind White, as the Wide Receiving Corps like all positions need to establish depth.
2. The Falcons need to continue to get reps for the offensive line and running game. Although the unit was much improved from the 1st preseason game, Guard Garrett Reynolds showed some “holes” in his game against the defensive front of the Ravens.
3. Tony Gonzalez is set to make his return this week for the Falcons. Although he is a seasoned vet in the National Football League, even virtual knowledge cannot take the place of on the field training. Gonzalez must use this week and the upcoming preseason game to ingratiate himself back into this high powered Falcon offense.
4. The Special Teams Unit for the Falcons must improve. They continue to give up long returns to opponents, giving premium field position or worst touchdowns. They also have not been able to flip the field position with good returns.
The Atlanta Falcons played better but there are still several areas to improve upon. The Falcons are set to travel to Nashville to take on the Titans on Saturday.
Jamie Walker is a Producer and the Atlanta Falcons Blogger for Sports Radio 92.9 The Game. Follow him on Twitter @coachjdub21.