The Baltimore Ravens won their first game of the 2012 NFL Preseason, pulling away from the Atlanta Falcons, 31-17, on Aug. 9 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Ga.

Here’s how the Ravens starters looked vs. Atlanta…

Ravens fifth-year quarterback Joe Flacco and the rest of the starting offense started out slow against the Falcons’ defense. They went 3-and-out on their first three offensive possessions, falling behind 14-0 at the start of the second quarter.

But Flacco and his receivers warmed up on their fourth possession together, marching down the field on a 11-play, 77-yard scoring drive capped off by a 9-yard touchdown pass to third-year tight end Ed Dickson. Flacco sat for the rest of the game after that possession, finishing 9-for-12 for 88 yards and a touchdown.

Second-year receiver Torrey Smith led all Ravens’ starters with three catches for 43 yards, while starting running back Ray Rice for just four yards on three carries.

The Ravens’ starting defense played without veteran linebacker Ray Lewis, and started the game just as slow as the offensive unit. They allowed Falcons fifth-year quarterback Matt Ryan to have his way in the first quarter, completing 9-for-13 passes for 155 yards and a touchdown. Ryan moved Atlanta up the field on the very first possession of the game and tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to second-year receiver Julio Jones. Ryan was picked off by Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo on the Falcons’ second offensive possession, but recovered to lead Atlanta on another touchdown drive at the start of the second quarter.

Jones finished with a game-high six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown, while veteran teammate Roddy White added three catches for 46 yards.

How the backups won the game for the Ravens…

Baltimore trailed 14-7 when the backups came in the game, but that didn’t stop the Ravens from pouring on 24 points in the second half to beat Atlanta. Ravens backup quarterback Tyron Taylor, a third-year player out of Virginia Tech, didn’t score any touchdowns but completed 8-of-17 passes for 64 yards and ran for 51 yards on five carries. Taylor helped Baltimore move into scoring territory, where they scored a field goal by rookie kicker Justin Tucker at the start of the third quarter.

However, it was third-string quarterback Curtis Painter who stood out the most, completing 7-of-14 passes for 76 yards and 3 touchdowns, including a 22-yard pass to rookie receiver Deonte Thompson, who finished with 3 catches for 53 yards. Backup running back Bobby Rainey also played well, rushing for 36 yards on 12 carries while also catching three passes for 28 yards and a touchdown.

The Ravens’ defensive replacements outpaced the starters at controlling Atlanta’s offense, allowing just three points through the entire second half of the game. Falcons backup Chris Redman completed just one of six passes for eight yards, while third-string quarterback John Parker Wilson connected on eight of 16 passing attempts for 68 yards. Fourth string quarterback Dominique Davis completed six of 11 passes for 53 yards.

The Ravens will next face the Detroit Lions on Aug. 17 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. 

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor