What do you want to see out of a team in a preseason game? Strong play from the starters, some high notes among the backups and everyone making it out unscathed. Well, check two of those items off the list for the Falcons second matchup against the Ravens.
Atlanta emerged as the dominant team over Baltimore's starters, but the reserves let the game get away. Matt Ryan and his first-team offense held a 20-7 lead at halftime. The next two quarters were a bit less exciting, and the Ravens ultimately came back to win 27-23. Yes, the Falcons are winless. Go crazy, everyone.
There were positives all over the roster, though. Here are the strong take(aways) from the night. I'll leave some talking points for Dave to discuss in his patented morning after recap.
- Steven Jackson looked great in his second showing. He rushed for 42 yards on eight carries, adding another 13 yards on his lone catch where he tip-toed the sideline. If you began to worry about Jackson, or the run game for that matter, after the first week, hopefully you've come to your senses by now.
- Jacquizz Rodgers and Josh Vaughan made a few nice runs, while Antone Smith averaged 20 yards per catch. It was a good showing from entire running back corps.
- The offensive line deserves a round of applause. Physically clap for them at your computer while reading this. Lamar Holmes didn't destroy the franchise. Matt Ryan had a clean pocket on plenty of occasions, and run blocking looked 1,000 times better than last Thursday. We should all feel good about the O-line's performance.
- Ryan was sharp. His connection with Julio Jones continues to thrive, as the two hooked up on three passes for 55 yards and a touchdown. Roddy White left the game with an ankle injury. Let's hope it's nothing serious. There was no reason for him to return, so don't take his extended absence as an automatic negative.
- Kevin Cone made an impressive catch similar to Drew Davis' grab from the Bengals game. Both receivers show flashes of brilliance at times. Davis made a tackle on special teams. They continue to battle for No. 4.
- Torrey Smith burned the entire defense for a 77-yard touchdown. That was fun. William Moore didn't look too interested in tackling him or generally making an effort at all. Preseason!
- Jonathan Babineaux is preparing for a monster year. His contract is up after 2013? Coincidence? I think not, but he's been solid for several seasons now.
- The run defense was stout. Ray Rice finished with 10 yards on eight carries. Fantasy football experts should probably start abandoning ship like they did with Jackson in Week 1.
- Paul Worrilow. That is all.
- Matt Bryant is money. Jeremy Shelley looks good ROLL TIDE but he's not winning the job.
- If anyone knows of a good punt returner, please give him a call. I believe the Falcons are scanning the skies for one. Robert Alford showed promise with just 1:30ish left to play.
- If anyone knows of a good punt defense, please them a call.
- The announcers for CBS here in Atlanta were clowns, bro. They messed up Matt Ryan's name, calling him Ryan Smith prior to an interview. They said the Falcons were in the "food red zone" when the sponsor was clearly Ford. They acknowledged the lack of playing time for Bradie Ewing, despite the fact he was ruled out before the game. Here's another roster spot that might be up for grabs.