Ravens 27, Falcons 23

The Atlanta Falcons remain winless in the preseason, yet they

are pleased with their progress as they move toward the start of

the regular season.

The Baltimore Ravens are unbeaten in the preseason, yet they

derived very little satisfaction from their 27-23 victory over the

Falcons on Thursday night.

It was 23-7 before Baltimore came back against Atlanta’s subs.

After Tyrod Taylor threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Tandon Doss to

make it 23-20 with 7:52 left, Asa Jackson scored on a 78-yard punt

return with 6:18 remaining.

The Ravens (2-0) won’t focus on that during the days ahead.

They’ll work on improving a defense that was pierced by Matt Ryan

and Steven Jackson, and righting an offense that produced only

three first downs before halftime.

What did the Falcons and Ravens learn?

1. SEE STEVEN RUN: Steven Jackson ran for 42 yards on eight

carries after being limited to eight yards on five carries one week

earlier in a 34-10 loss to Cincinnati.

”I thought Steven played really well. Running the football, he

was really effective,” Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said.

Jackson signed as a free agent with the Falcons after a

nine-year run with St. Louis, and appears to be on solid footing

with Atlanta.

Jackson said, ”Having success tonight is great for our

confidence. We’ve been working on the chemistry between the running

back and the offensive line, and we feel the hard work showed

tonight.”

2. OFFENSE NEEDS WORK: Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco played the

first half and led the offense to one touchdown, a 77-yard pass to

Torrey Smith.

Other than that, Baltimore gained 54 yards on 18 plays before

halftime.

”We were sloppy, obviously,” Flacco said. ”We were just

unable to get into a rhythm. You love the one-play touchdown

drives, but at the same time, it would have been nice to get a

little bit of rhythm. … Having said that, we’re not going to

overreact to something like this and get all crazy. We’ll get

through this.”

3. WINNING ISN’T EVERYTHING: Ravens coach John Harbaugh stressed

that he was delighted with the victory. Then he pointed out all the

reasons why he was disappointed with the way the Ravens

performed.

”We didn’t run the ball well. That was a negative,” he said.

”We didn’t stop the run. That’s something that has to happen. I’m

really disappointed, because I felt like we’d come out, based on

the way we’ve been practicing, and play a lot better.”

At halftime, the sixth-year coach expressed dismay with the way

Baltimore dug itself into a 20-7 hole.

”That first half was about as poorly as we can play,” Harbaugh

said. ”I can’t remember us playing worse since we came here.”

4. IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK: Atlanta’s starting offense welcomed

back wide receiver Julio Jones, and Ryan was glad to see him – if

only for a few possessions. The tandem connected three times,

landing Jones a team-high 55 yards receiving and a score during a

first-quarter drive.

”Julio’s a great player, one of the best in the league,” Ryan

said. ”When he’s on the field, we’re a better football team.”

Jones missed the Cincinnati game while recovering from a

hamstring injury suffered during training camp.

”It was good to have Julio back,” coach Mike Smith said. ”We

held him out that first game for precautionary reasons, and we were

able to get him some limited action tonight.”

Jones was removed from the game following the touchdown.

5. MANY UNHAPPY RETURNS: Smith was less than pleased with his

backup special teams unit after the Falcons allowed a punt return

touchdown for a second straight week.

Against Cincinnati, Dane Sanzenbacher went 71 yards. In this

one, Asa Jackson sprinted through the Falcons for the winning

score.

”This is the second week in a row that we’ve had a punt

returned for a touchdown. That’s something we need to address and

we definitely will,” Smith said.

For rookies hoping to make an impression on the coaching staff,

they may have gotten off on the wrong foot.

”Those are young guys that are going through a steep learning

curve to learn how we do it here at the Atlanta Falcons,” Smith

said.

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org