Harbaugh: “That first half was as poorly as we could play” (Ravens take 27-23 lead)

If the fans were unsatisfied with seeing the Ravens beaten up in almost every area during a woeful first half, think of how coach John Harbaugh felt.

Harbaugh didn’t think much of his team’s performance over the first 30 minutes against Atlanta, one which saw the Falcons walk off the field with a 20-7 lead and the Ravens make just one memorable play on offense.

“That first half was about as poorly as we could play,” Harbaugh said. “I can’t remember us playing worse since we came here. We still have another half, and I expect we’ll play better. We want to win this game.”

Defensive coordinator Dean Pees felt the same way after Baltimore allowed 255 yards in the first half.

“That was not us. That’s not how we play,” he said. “Our fundamentals were not what they should be.”

The second half isn’t looking much better. The Ravens have surrendered just three more points to slip behind 23-7, and have two three-and-outs with Tyrod Taylor at quarterback.

Harbaugh even sent his starting offensive line back onto the field to start the third quarter. The results were no better against Falcons backups.

Update: One drive after being picked off in the red zone, Taylor responded with a beautiful pass to Aaron Mellette on the first play from scrimmage.

A well-placed 40-yard loft found Mellette striding past the secondary for a touchdown. That’s two touchdown catches in as many preseason games for the seventh-round receiver, and after a failed two-point conversion, the Ravens trail 23-13 in the fourth quarter.

Update II: With 7:52 remaining, this one is all of a sudden a game again. The result doesn’t matter of course, but anything the Ravens can do to put that demoralizing first half behind them is a good thing.

Taylor is doing all he can to turn this into a positive, following up his deep scoring pass to Mellette with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Tandon Doss. That capped a 10-play, 68-yard drive that lasted 3:59, cutting Atlanta’s lead to 23-20.

The Falcons held a 23-7 advantage with less than 14 minutes to go.

Additionally, defensive tackle Brandon Williams just limped off the field after being attended to by trainers. He appears to be OK.

Update III: Well, that escalated quickly. The Ravens have taken their first lead since 7-3 on Asa Jackson’s 78-yard punt return for a touchdown.

It appeared that Baltimore was going to be flagged for a block in the back, but the call was on the Falcons, and the return stood. Jackson, who will sit out the first eight games of the season for violating the league’s performance-enhancing drug policy, corralled the punt and burned his way around the right edge before sprinting down the visiting sideline for six points.

Justin Tucker booted the extra point through and the Ravens lead 27-23 with 6:18 to go. Baltimore has scored 20 points in about six minutes.