Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (27) stands on the sideline in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
The Ravens showed off their newly-installed offense with a convincing 23-3 win over the San Francisco 49ers in the preseason opener at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on Aug. 7.
It was the first real game for the Ravens since hiring new offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak. Although the first-string unit only played one series, their short time on the field was enough to impress everybody watching.
Seventh-year quarterback Joe Flacco was in full control of Kubiak’s West Coast offense, making quick decisions and sharp, accurate passes during the Ravens’ initial drive. Flacco completed four of five passes for 52 yards, with passes going to four different receivers, including one to newly acquired receiver Steve Smith Sr. Each of Flacco’s passes resulted in a first down.
Baltimore Ravens running back Bernard Pierce (30) falls into the end zone for a touchdown in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
The drive ended with a 2-yard touchdown plunge by third-year running back Bernard Pierce that pushed Baltimore ahead, 7-3, in the first quarter.
“The execution by the offense on our first drive was what we like to see,” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh told reporters after the game. “Our technique and assignments were sharp. It was good, fundamentally sound football.”
The defensive starters for Baltimore weren’t as impressive—the 49ers pounded their way down the field with their running game during their opening offensive drive, pushing the Ravens defensive front back on their heels. Rookie running back Carlos Hyde ran three times for 36 yards—a whopping 12 yards per carry average—during the opening drive against Baltimore. But the Ravens defense eventually stiffened up in the red zone and forced San Fran to settle for a short field goal.
San Francisco 49ers tight end Vance McDonald reacts as he is tackled by Baltimore Ravens inside linebacker C.J. Mosley in the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 7, 2014, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Once the backups were in the game, Baltimore took complete control. The Ravens pounded the 49ers with their rushing attack on offense and also smothered San Francisco on defense, shutting out the Niners the rest of the way.
Third-year kicker Justin Tucker continued to prove why he’s one of the best kickers in the league, making three field goals including a 55-yarder in the third quarter. Rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley led Baltimore’s defense with five tackles and a sack.
Rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro led the Ravens offense with 71 rushing yards on 13 carries, and receiver Kamar Aiken led the team with four catches for 46 yards. Rookie receiver Jeremy Butler had two catches for 16 yards, including the game’s only touchdown catch. All three players are fighting for a roster spot.
Baltimore’s next preseason action comes Aug. 16 in a road game against the Dallas Cowboys.