In their last tune-up before the start of the regular season, the starting lineups of both the Baltimore Ravens and Washington Redskins made strong impressions, as the ‘Skins took a 21-14 lead into halftime before the Ravens’ backups rallied for a 34-31 win August 25 at M&T Bank Stadium.
The third game of the NFL preseason is usually the last chance to work out any problems for the regular season starters, who often sit out the fourth game. Both teams followed that trend, as their first-string players took the field for the entire first half, before letting the backups take over in the third and fourth quarters.
Here’s a look at each skill position for both teams:
Quarterbacks – Ravens’ fourth-year passer Joe Flacco put on a decent showing in his last action before the regular season begins on Sept. 11 against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He started out with a miscue, throwing an interception on his third pass of the game to Redskins cornerback Deangelo Hall, who ran it back 52 yards for a defensive touchdown. But Flacco showed great poise, bouncing back from the turnover to lead the Ravens on two scoring drives in the first half, including an impressive drive capped off with a 35-yard touchdown pass to speedy receiver Lee Evans near the end of the second quarter. Flacco completed 17-of-27 passes for 219 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception.
The Redskins started Rex Grossman at quarterback, and he performed well, completing 8-of-12 passes for 112 yards and a 24-yard touchdown pass to veteran receiver Santana Moss right before halftime arrived. Grossman is still battling fifth-year quarterback John Beck for the starting position; Beck had a chance to play with the starters, too, completing 6-of-10 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw an interception in the third quarter.
Running backs – The Redskins appear to have found a worthy starting running back this offseason in veteran tailback Tim Hightower, who rushed for 56 yards on 9 carries against the Ravens, including a 37-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. ‘Skins coach Mike Shanahan is a fan of the running game, so Hightower’s performance against the Ravens’ tough run defense likely made a huge impression on the coach.
Ravens’ running back Ray Rice looked as good as ever, rushing for 72 yards on 13 carries, including a 3-yard touchdown run at the start of the second quarter. Rice also made some impressive catches out of the back field, helping bail out Flacco when the pocket collapsed.
Receivers – Ray Rice has served as one of Flacco’s favorite receiving target in years past, but this year he has new weapons to work with, including newly-signed veteran speedster Lee Evans. Flacco and Evans are building a solid chemistry together, hooking up for deep passes in the few games they’ve played together so far. Flacco also found veteran receiver Anquan Boldin several times; Boldin finished with 5 catches for 73 yards and a touchdown.
Three different Redskins receivers recorded at least 50 yards receiving, including Terrance Austin with 72 yards, Santana Moss with 51 yards and Anthony Armstrong with 51 yards.
Offensive Line – The Redskins’ offensive line looked outstanding against the Ravens’ defense. They plowed open huge holes for the running backs to get into, and they also gave their quarterbacks enough time to survey the field and get open.
The Ravens’ line was also solid, though not as good. Third-year tackle Michael Oher gave up a sack in the first half, but he also blocked well enough to allow Flacco to make several passes downfield for big gains.
Defense – Both defensive units gave up a ton of points in this preseason game, including 35 total points before halftime. But each unit still displayed flashes of dominance. Skins’ cornerback Deangelo Hall showed he can still jump a route with the best of them, as he snatched away an early Flacco pass for the game’s only defensive score.
Ravens’ cornerback Lardarious Webb continues to prove he’s a rising ball hawk in the league, recording an interception and a sack against the ‘Skins.