Five Things We Learned vs. Ravens

Posted Aug 15, 2013

The Falcons jumped out to a 20-7 first-half lead behind the starters against the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens on Thursday night, but gave up the lead in the second half, falling 27-23 in their second preseason game.

1. Ground and Pound: It looks like the Falcons used last week to warm up their running attack. Against the Ravens on Thursday night, Atlanta came out running, led by Steven Jackson. They ran and ran early and the offensive line looks like they’ve found their rhythm with Jackson. After a stalled first drive, Jackson ran the Falcons down the field with seven carries for 31 yards. Jackson ended the night with 42 yards on eight carries and added one 13-yard catch. But the ground success didn’t end there. Jacquizz Rodgers added 28 more yards and Antone Smith returned to action this week with 56 all-purpose yards. Not to be outdone, Josh Vaughan added 44 yards rushing in the second half.

2. U.S.S. Babineaux Looks Unstoppable: There are many who think Jonathan Babineaux is one of the better defensive tackles in the league that no one has ever heard of. He’s a leader on the line and has shown his versatility in the past by lining up all along the line in coach Mike Nolan’s defense. Against the offensive line of the Ravens, Babineaux created havoc in the backfield. He ended the game with three tackles, two of them for losses. He consistently got a strong push against Baltimore and if he can play that consistently this season, he could be looking at a Pro Bowl year.

PHOTOS: See Images From the Falcons vs. Ravens

3. Starting Defense Came to Play: Sure, they gave up a huge play in the first quarter and that’s the kind of thing Nolan will want to wipe out; the 77-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith is a concern, but the Falcons defense looked strong otherwise. They limited Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice to 10 yards on eight carries. That example carried throughout the game, with the Falcons holding the Ravens to 61 yards, although problems elsewhere surrendered the Falcons' lead. Atlanta’s first-half defense held the Ravens to just one conversion in five attempts on third down.

4. Davis Shakes Off Week 1: Backup quarterback Dominique Davis had high hopes last week of stepping in after Matt Ryan and conducting a seamless transition. Davis missed on his first five pass attempts before settling down into a one touchdown, one interception night. Decision-making was Davis’ focus this week and he showed he’s got the ability to make good decisions against Baltimore. He connected on his first six throws in the first half against the Ravens, and stretched that streak to eight straight in the second half. His night ended with eight completions on 10 attempts for 98 yards. He added 13 yards rushing for good measure and took a step towards giving the coaching staff a trustworthy backup.

5. Special Teams Woes: Some troubles on special teams in the second half wiped out the lead the Falcons built after a strong first half. The players competing for roster spots on Thursday will do so by what they do on special teams. Except for a Robert Alford 23-yard punt return in the second half there weren't any game-breaking returns by the Falcons, but it wasn't the same for the Ravens.  For the second straight week, the Falcons special teams gave up a punt return. Against the Ravens, it was a 78-yard return in the fourth quarter. Special teams coach Keith Armstrong will surely remind his players that doing well on his unit is the key to earning a roster spot.

Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on represent those of the individual authors. Unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Atlanta Falcons’ organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. The writers’ views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Falcons officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.