Flacco Sharp in 17-13 Victory Over Panthers

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There have been questions about the Ravens receiving group since February.

Maybe the answer is the continued improvement of the quarterback Joe Flacco.

Flacco was crisp with his passes and got the offense in the flow. He directed touchdown drives of 80 and 90 yards a piece and showed great poise in the pocket in the face of pressure and hit his check downs to Ray Rice and Todd Heap. Playing into the third quarter the second year player finished 23 of 28 for 247 yards and a touchdown pass.

Derrick Mason has six catches and was as usual a reliable target. Kelley Washington made a strong impression for more playing time with three catches without the dance celebrations. But perhaps the most encouraging sign was the touchdown catch by Todd Heap. Flacco’s ball was right on time as the safety help was late and Heap looked like his former All-Pro self with four catches to his credit.

The first team defense also looked ready for the regular season. Not having to face either of Carolina’s two two runners certainly helped but Ray Lewis ran sideline to sideline to register the game’s first tackles and Haloti Ngata and Jarret Johnson sacked Jake Delhomme to end the Panthers first possession.

Even without Terrell Suggs so far this pre-season the first team defense hasn’t given up a touchdown in four quarters. For Baltimore its just the type of game you want to have heading into the final exhibition game against Atlanta where the starters should see very little time.

Points To Ponder

  • Is the kicking contest over? Not so sure. Steve Hauschka had the edge going into last night’s game and he didn’t help himself missing a 27 yard chip shot on the first drive. Graham Gano did not see action so you wonder if Gano will get the whole game against the Falcons or Coach Harbaugh has made up his mind and the post Stover era beings.
  • How good was Joe Flacco last night? He was impressive. Tight spirals into coverage. Moved away from trouble. Ran his progressions. Used Ray Rice as the safety valve (8 receptions, 55 yards). If not for an Oher false start, his own delay of game and a sack on the first drive that ended into in no points after starting on the Panther one yard line the first offense would have scored three touchdowns. Sure it’s pre-season but this was the last legitimate warm-up for them before Kansas City and the offense looked ready to step forward.
  • Who else looked good? Michael Oher played both right and left tackle and held Julius Peppers to one tackle. He also had a costly false start and a holding penalty. He’ll make mistakes but he’ll learn from them. Domonique Foxworth has slowly improved his technique and had several nice plays guarding Steve Smith. Fantasy owners just remember Ray Rice can also catch balls out of the backfield. Ray Lewis was fun to watch early in the ballgame. His hyper-extended elbow isn’t cause for concern. Derrick Mason looked in mid-season form while Kelley Washington and Demetrius Williams each had multiple catches.
  • How was the pressure on Delhomme? Much improved, even without Suggs the front four got to the quarterback though I still can’t understand why Trevor Pryce gets held constantly in front of the QB and never seems to get a flag.

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