Undisciplined Ravens fall behind early, take lead right back (Ugly first half)

Before tonight’s preseason visit from Atlanta is even nine minutes old, the Ravens have already been flagged four times for 40 yards, including two 15-yard penalties.

The defense is responsible for three of the infractions, and that helped the Falcons take a 3-0 lead.

But just one play after Matt Bryant’s 45-yard field goal, quarterback Joe Flacco connected with Torrey Smith for a simple slant over the middle that the speedy wideout took 77 yards for a touchdown and a 7-3 lead with 6:21 to go in the first quarter.

Just like that, a whole lot of ugliness turned around in a flash.

Doesn’t excuse the stream of flags or the inability to get off the field, but it does make up a little for a three and out on the first-team offense’s opening series.

One play doesn’t cover the lack of discipline shown so far in a game that seems to have more flags than actual plays thus far. Arthur Jones, James Ihedigbo and Chykie Brown all committed penalties while center A.Q. Shipley was called for a facemask on offense.

But Smith and Flacco will like that one on replay.

Update: Well, this one has gone from a slogfest to a shootout in a hurry.

The Ravens didn’t burn themselves with penalties this time. Instead, Atlanta used the big play to quickly take a 10-7 lead.

The Falcons motored 80 yards downfield in just seven plays and 3:33, capping the drive with Matt Ryan’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones. Ryan connected with Jones three times for 55 yards on that possession while Steven Jackson ran once for 11 yards and hauled in a 13-yard pass.

Update II: Ryan is now done after a real solid quarter-plus for the Falcons.

He finished 8-for-15 for 97 yards and a touchdown, leading his team to 10 points. Dominique Davis is now in at quarterback for Atlanta.

Update III: As reserves start to trickle into the contest for both squads, the Ravens did a nice job holding the Falcons to three points after starting on their own 47.

Following an 18-yard pass that put Atlanta on the Ravens’ 15, tailback Jacquizz Rodgers gained one yard. Rodgers then was pushed back 10 yards on tackles for loss by 2013 picks Arthur Brown and Matt Elam over the next two plays.

Jeremy Shelley settled for a 42-yard field goal and a 13-7 lead.

The Ravens again answered with a troubling offensive possession, this time turning it over instead of not moving at all. A pass from Flacco to Jacoby Jones was tipped and intercepted by Asante Samuel, who returned it inside the Baltimore 5. Visanthe Shiancoe forced a fumble on the 33-yard return, but it was recovered by Atlanta.

Rodgers punched it in from 2 yards out in the next play for a 20-7 Falcons advantage.

Update IV: Now that was a pretty forgettable first half for the Ravens’ first-teamers.

Aside from a handful of veterans, Baltimore stuck with its starters for much of the initial two quarters and the results weren’t good, as the Falcons took a 20-7 lead into the locker room.

Atlanta has 16 first downs to the Ravens’ three and, minus Flacco’s 77-yard touchdown pass, would be outgaining them 255-54. Baltimore committed five penalties for 42 yards, all but one of which came in the first quarter.

Flacco’s overall numbers don’t look too bad, as he’s 7-for-9 for 118 yards, a touchdown and an interception. But the majority of that came on one slant pass.

The Ravens ran for just 13 yards while getting beat both on the ground and through the air on defense.

Tonight’s attendance: 70,527