Running back Antone Smith has been mired in a numbers game at the running back position. Throughout camp, the Falcons carried six backs until cutting Philip Sylvester earlier this week. Smith, who was a member of the active roster last year, came in looking to make it again this year, but things got a little tougher with the addition of Jacquizz Rodgers — a back very much built from Smith's mold. Smith fumbled a kick return against Jacksonville a few weeks back, but he made up for it Thursday with a 46-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Smith may still be facing an uphill battle to make the roster, but that blast — combined with a 42-yard reception later in the game — helped make it a difficult decision for the coaching staff. Smith finished with 114 yards rushing.
Just for Kicks
If you watched Thursday night's game, you might have mistaken it for a punting contest. In the fourth preseason game of the year, traditionally, starters don't play much — if at all. We saw that was the case Thursday as the Falcons and Ravens had plenty of starters in street clothes on the sidelines, and what that caused was anemic offenses on both sides as they struggled to move the ball with any consistency. Enter Falcons punter Matt Bosher and Ravens punter Sam Koch, who combined for 14 punts Thursday night. In the battle of averages, Koch eked it out with 45 yards per kick vs. Bosher's 33 yards per punt.
Still, I'm amazed that quarterbacks often try to test cornerback Brent Grimes. They look at him and they must see something the rest of us don't, because they keep throwing his way. It happened again Thursday night, and Grimes made them pay. Tyrod Taylor's pass was picked off by Grimes on the Ravens' first drive, putting Grimes' interception total at three for the preseason.
Duo of Destruction
Defensive ends Kroy Biermann and Ray Edwards got the start Thursday as John Abraham sat out for some rest, and they were frequent visitors to the Ravens' backfield throughout the first half. Biermann finished with a sack, and Edwards was close on a couple of occasions. The two wrecked havoc in the backfield for Taylor, though. Eventually, Taylor left the game with an injury before the end of the first quarter.
At one point in the third quarter, the game looked like a tennis match — going back and forth down the field. Falcons CB Kamaal McIlwain — an undrafted rookie — made a great interception as the Ravens were driving and returned it more than 40 yards to set the Falcons up. On the Falcons' ensuing drive, quarterback John Parker Wilson was picked off by Ravens CB Chykie Brown, who returned it 65 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. The interception was Wilson's second of the preseason.