It was a tale of two halves for the Baltimore Ravens in a 27-23 win over the Atlanta Falcons in week two of the 2013 NFL preseason.
The Ravens’ starters went into halftime trailing 20-7 before the backups took to the field and scored 20 unanswered points in the second half for the comeback win in Baltimore.
"That first half was about as poorly as we can play," Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. "I can't remember us playing worse since we came here.”
Baltimore committed several costly penalties that hurt them early in the game. The only positive highlight for their offense in the first half was a 77-yard touchdown pass from six-year quarterback Joe Flacco to third-year receiver Torrey Smith. Flacco found Smith for a short slant route and watched Smith use his elite speed to burn defenders up in the middle of the field to the end zone.
But the starters were stopped on every other offensive possession, and Flacco was even intercepted in the second quarter by Falcons veteran cornerback Asante Samuel.
“We were just sloppy. We never got into a rhythm," said Flacco, who finished 7-for-9 for 118 yards, one touchdown and one interception. "The one drive we did score on, it was just one play."
The Ravens’ starting defense also showed sloppy play. Cornerback Jimmy Smith gave up three big plays down field, including an 8-yard touchdown pass from Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan to receiver Julio Jones.
"This was good for us. A little humble pie," Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "We had a lot of success last week, with everything pretty much going our way. Atlanta is a very good team, and you can't make the mistakes we did. It's that simple."
Harbaugh told reporters the starters should thank the backups for making a comeback in the second half to win the game. Second-string quarterback Tyrod Taylor completed 5-for-9 passes for 83 yards and two touchdowns, including a 40-yard score to receiver Aaron Mellette.
Asa Jackson also returned a punt 78 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter that gave Baltimore the game-deciding score.
“I told the team in there, ‘the ones give the twos and the threes a slap on the back and a hand,” Harbaugh said, “Because our guys, they came out and found a way to win the game.”