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Ravens streak past Falcons in comeback

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Torrey Smith bolts past Falcons defense for a score

The Falcons went up early against the Baltimore Ravens, but a late fourth quarter comeback led to their second loss of the preseason by a score of 27-23. The Falcons wound up blowing a 16-point lead in the second half.

Matt Ryan was solid despite seeing some pressure in this game, completing 8 of 15 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown. Dominique Davis came into the game in the second quarter, and finished the night completing 8 of 10 passes for 98 yards. Sean Renfree mopped up, completing 8 of 16 passes for 63 yards. On the ground, Steven Jackson was also solid with 42 yards gained on 8 carries. Josh Vaughan led Falcons rushers with 44 yards on 5 carries. Jacquizz Rodgers added 28 yards on 10 carries and a touchdown. Julio Jones shined with the starters, catching 3 passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. Darius Johnson led Falcons receivers with 6 grabs for a total of 50 yards. Drew Davis (4 catches, 45 yards), Antone Smith (2 catches, 40 yards), and Chase Coffman (3 catches, 30 yards) also made contributions in the Falcons’ passing attack. Matt Bryant connected on a 45-yard field goal, and Jeremy Shelley had a pair of field goals from 42 and 29 yards to give the Falcons their other scores. Matt Bosher punted six times for an average of 41.7 yards with 2 punts placed inside the 20-yard line. Robert Alford returned a pair of punts for 29 yards (14.5 avg) and Harry Douglas also returned a punt for 2 yards. All the Ravens kickoffs resulted in touchbacks. The Falcons were able to gain 255 yards of total offense in the first half, with 16 first downs and converted 4 of 8 third downs. They did not fare as strongly in the second half, with 167 total yards, 11 first downs and only 3 of 10 on third down conversions.

Defensively, the Falcons really bottled up the Ravens offense. While they gave up a pair of big plays for scores, the Ravens struggled to move the ball throughout the first three quarters. The Ravens’ starters played the entire first half, and only were able to accumulate 131 yards of total offense, 3 first downs, and converted only 1 of 5 third downs. In the second half, despite the big plays, the Falcons defense only allowed 118 yards of total offense. Paul Worrilow led defenders for the second consecutive game with 6 stops. He also added a sack and a tackle for loss. Among regulars, Jonathan Babineaux (3 tackles, 2 tackles for loss), Akeem Dent (2 tackles, 1 for loss); Robert McClain (3 tackles), and Asante Samuel (2 tackles, 1 interception) had standout performances. Among the backups, Joplo Bartu (3 tackles), Dominique Franks (no tackles, 1 interception, 3 passes defended), Kemal Ishmael (2 tackles), Charles Mitchell (2 tackles, 1 for loss), and Adam Replogle (2 tackles, 1 sack) had noteworthy games. Ishmael also added a pair of stops on special teams as well. The Falcons did give up a 78-yard punt return for a touchdown, the second score allowed in as many preseason games this summer.

The game got off to a bit of a sloppy start with multiple penalties on the Falcons opening drive. After Ryan hit Chase Coffman on a 6-yard pass to open the game, a pair of false starts on Sam Baker and Peter Konz set the offense back. But Ryan found Roddy White on an 11-yard completion, coupled with an illegal contact penalty on Chykie Brown gave the Falcons a first down. But the Falcons could not convert two plays later on 3rd & 6, with Ryan making a quick dumpoff to Harry Douglas going only for one yard. After a Matt Bosher punt, the Ravens took over. Joe Flacco’s first pass tipped off the hands of tight end Visanthe Shiancoe, and the Ravens had a personal foul penalty on center A.Q. Shipley back them up. On 3rd & 22, Flacco was hit from behind by Osi Umenyiora, and Shiancoe dropped another pass to force a Ravens punt. The Falcons started their next series with five straight runs to Steven Jackson, who gained 24 yards on those carries. Ryan then attempted a back-shoulder throw to Roddy White in the endzone, but it came up incomplete. After a 2-yard run by Jackson, the Falcons faced a 3rd & 8. Pressure forced Ryan to throw it away and the Falcons settled for a 45-yard field goal from Matt Bryant to take a 3-0 lead.

The Ravens responded quickly, as Flacco hit Torrey Smith on a quick slant. Asante Samuel gave up a big cushion and William Moore took a bad angle, allowing Smith to sprint untouched for a 77-yard touchdown to give Baltimore a 7-3 lead off a one-play scoring drive.

Steven Jackson continued to get work, helping the Falcons move the ball with a 13-yard cach and an 11-yard run. That was followed by a deep catch to Julio Jones from Ryan for 32 yards. Ryan went back to Jones on the very next play with a 15-yard completion over the middle. Jacquizz Rodgers entered the game for Jackson, and was given the ball on a delay for a yard. Then Ryan threw behind Rodgers on a dumpoff for an incompletion. But on 3rd & goal from the Ravens’ 8-yard line, Ryan found Jones again in the back of the endzone for a score. That gave the Falcons a 10-7 lead.

The Falcons defense responded by stopping three consecutive Ray Rice carries. On 3rd & 2, Jonathan Babineaux and Kroy Biermann met in the backfield to stop Rice for a 5-yard loss leading to the second Ravens punt. Ryan and the Falcons offense once again attacked downfield, dropping a 17-yard completion in the bucket over the shoulder of Kevin Cone. Rodgers had a nice 6-yard run, juking Courtney Upshaw out of his shoes to close out the first quarter. Ryan found Drew Davis on a quick out for 5 yards to convert on 3rd & 2 two plays later. A lob to Chase Coffman was deflected and almost picked off a play later. Ryan then missed the outstretched hand of Douglas down the seam for another incompletion, setting up a 3rd & 10. Pressure got to Ryan once more and he threw it away in the direction of Antone Smith for a third consecutive incompletion. Smith downed Bosher’s punt at the Ravens’ 2-yard line. The Ravens offense couldn’t get much going with a three-and-out, as Samuel delivered a hit on Jacoby Jones to stop him shy of the first down marker on 3rd & 5. Dominique Davis entered the game for the Falcons on the ensuing drive with about eleven and a half minutes to go in the first half. Rodgers continued to get work on the ground, getting four straight carries for 20 yards before Davis hit Smith on a throw in the flat for 18 yards. The Falcons went back to Rodgers on each of the next three plays, but he was bottled up for a 6-yard gain on a 3rd & 13 to force the kicking team onto the field. Jeremy Shelley hit a 42-yard field goal to push the Falcons lead to six points, 13-7.

The Falcons starting defense continued to get work with 6 minutes remaining in the half. After Flacco hit Billy Bajema on a naked bootleg for a 24-yard gain, a tipped pass landed neatly in the waiting arms of Samuel for an interception. Samuel ran 33 yards before fumbling the ball, but Peria Jerry was able to fall on it at the Ravens’ 2-yard line. On the next play, Rodgers scored on a 2-yard run off a second effort to push the Falcons lead to 20-7.

David Reed would take the ensuing kickoff 38 yards to set up the Ravens offense in good field position. The Ravens would convert on a third down on a crossing pattern to Torrey Smith. Two plays later, Babineaux would hit Rice in the backfield for a 4-yard loss to force a 3rd & 6. Flacco’s throw into the flat to Damien Berry was stopped by Samuel with a good hit to force another Ravens punt at the two-minute warning. Antone Smith got the work on the ground, rushing twice for a combined six yards before being hit once more by Davis in the flat for a 22-yard gain. Davis then found Chase Coffman on a pair of throws for a combined 24 yards. Davis then found Drew Davis down the seam for a 23-yard gain, but as Davis was going to the ground the ball slipped out. The refs initially ruled that the ground caused the fumble and the Falcons had the ball in scoring position at the Ravens’ 10-yard line. But after review, it was ruled a fumble and the Ravens recovered at their own 5-yard line with 11 seconds remaining in the half. After a kneel-down by Flacco, the first half ended with Atlanta still up 20-7.

Tyrod Taylor entered the game in the second half, and couldn’t spark the Ravens offense with a three-and-out. On second down, Dominique Franks jumped a throw to almost get a pick six, but the interception went off his hands. Taylor was sacked by a blitzing Paul Worrilow on third down to force the punt. Drew Davis would have a pair of catches for 16 yards on the ensuing drive, but Smith’s 2-yard gain couldn’t convert a 3rd & 4, leading to another Bosher punt. The Ravens offense had another three-and-out, as Franks broke up a deep pass to LaQuan Williams on third down. Josh Vaughan got the carry on the next Falcons’ series, breaking a tackle in the backfield before scrambling for a 20-yard gain on first down. Two plays later, a false start on Ryan Schraeder set up a 3rd & 12. Pressure on the ensuing play flushed Dominique Davis, who tried to scramble for the first but came up shy on a 9-yard run. But on the punt by Bosher, a Ravens defender got flagged for running into the kicker which gave the Falcons a first down. Three straight runs came by Vaughn for a combined 22 yards, followed by a 2-yard third down conversion and run by Dominique Davis put the Falcons inside the redzone. On 3rd & 3 from the Ravens’ 11-yard line, Davis’ pass to Martel Moore was broken up by Chykie Brown. That led to another Shelley field goal, this time from 29 yards out. That gave the Falcons a 23-7 lead with three and a half minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Ravens offense finally began to show some life. A pass interference call on Robert McClain on the third play of the ensuing series put the ball in Falcons territory. The Ravens then began to utilize the read-option with Taylor, who gained 7 yards on the next play. McClain seemingly redeemed himself on the ensuing play by stripping Tandon Doss from behind to force a fumble that Worrilow recovered at the Falcons’ 17-yard line. But upon review, the play was ruled an incomplete pass and McClain was flagged again for unnecessary roughness after the strip. That put the ball back in the Ravens’ hands at the Falcons’ 23-yard line with a 1st down. Another read-option keeper by Taylor went for 8 yards. After a conversion by Damien Berry on third and short, the Ravens had the ball at the 13-yard line with 21 seconds left in the quarter. But Franks jumped Taylor’s throw to LaQuan Williams for the interception, giving Atlanta the ball at their own 6 with 14 seconds left in the quarter as Sean Renfree entered the game. At the outset of the third quarter, Alec Savoie got beat by John Simon who sacked Renfree on third down to force a Bosher punt. The Ravens offense responded with another one-play scoring drive, as Taylor found Aaron Mellette on a 40-yard bomb, beating Peyton Thompson for six. That cut the Falcons lead to 23-13.

The Falcons offense responded with a three-and-out. Ravens tight end Matt Furstenburg would make two first downs on a pair of catches for a combined 23 yards on the ensuing Ravens’ drive to put the ball in Falcon territory. After Taylor attempted another deep ball down the sideline to Mellette, Robert Alford was flagged for pass interference giving the Ravens the ball at the Falcons’ 7-yard line. Two plays later, Jonathan Massaquoi was able to get pressure on Taylor, but wound up grabbing his face mask, negating Adam Replogle’s sack. Two plays later, Doss made Franks miss on a quick 5-yard out for another Ravens score. Baltimore now had cut the Falcons’ lead to three points with less than 8 minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

Renfree couldn’t connect with Rashad Evans on an out throw due to a miscommunication on third down. With Bosher on the field to punt, he outkicked his coverage and Asa Jackson took the punt 78 yards to the house to give the Ravens the lead 27-23 with little more than six minutes to go in the game.

Renfree missed on four consecutive passes to start the Falcons next drive, however on a pass interference on Ravens corner Marc Anthony gave them one first down. Ronnie Wingo and Donald Russell would each convert a pair of third downs to get the Falcons to the Ravens’ 36-yard line. Renfree hit on a throw to Darius Johnson, his second catch of the series for a 10-yard gain after Russell’s conversion. After a run blitz blew up Wingo in the backfield for a three-yard loss two plays later, the two-minute warning hit. Then Renfree threw behind Colin Cloherty for an incompletion on 3rd & 5. The Falcons attempted to go for it on 4th down but Cloherty dropped the pass from Renfree to give the Ravens the ball back with 1:49 at their own 21-yard line. Two runs by Damien Berry gained little yardage. Taylor tried to scramble on the play-action rollout, but Charles Mitchell was there to bottle him up on a 1-yard loss to force a Ravens punt. Alford returned the kick 23 yards, giving the Falcons favorable field position at the Ravens’ 49-yard line with 1:21 left in the game and no timeouts left. Renfree found Johnson for a pair of receptions for 23 yards to get the ball to the Ravens’ 26. With 30 seconds left, Ryan Schraeder had his second false start of the evening leading to a 10-second run off. Renfree hit Evans on a quick out for 6 yards, giving the Falcons one final play with 4 seconds left at the Ravens’ 25-yard line. Renfree overthrew Johnson as his pass sailed out the back of the endzone, ending the game. The Falcons had fallen 27-23.

Next week the Falcons will once more be traveling, this time to Nashville to face the Tennessee Titans in the all-important third preseason game, which is the dress rehearsal for the regular season.

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Author: Aaron Freeman

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