Thank goodness for Lee Evans.
In his debut in a Ravens’ jersey, the newly acquired Evans turned in a stylish performance, making three grabs for 68 yards, but there were few other offensive highlights out of the first-team offense in Baltimore’s 31-13 win over the Chiefs.
It might seem like nitpicking with a final score as lopsided as the one listed above, but the Ravens’ starting offense really was not on its game tonight.
Joe Flacco went 12-of-24 for 124 yards, Anquan Boldin caught just two passes for 27 yards, and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron’s group struggled to get into much of a flow in what turned into a bit of a snoozer against Kansas City.
“I think we’re just a little bit off on some things,” Flacco said. “We almost hit a couple big plays; we’re not quite there yet. But we still have a couple weeks to tighten that up. I’m pretty comfortable with where we are.”
Defensively, the Ravens’ first-team should be plenty comfortable with where they are.
Starting cornerbacks Jimmy Smith and Cary Williams played with a physical edge in their first starts of the preseason, defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano cranked up the pressure, and the Ravens held a tough Chiefs run game in check throughout the night.
“That first group played the way that we like to play,” Pagano said. “We were aggressive and tackled well. We were physical, and we swarmed to the ball.”
“We’re feeling good,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “Obviously, we still have some work to do and a ways to go. But, the day that counts is September 11. Basically every game that we play in the preseason gets us a step closer to that opener against the Steelers. I think we’re right on pace, especially because we’ve only shown a quarter of the things that we’re going to do in the regular season.”
Overall, tonight was indicative of what we’ve seen through the last three weeks of training camp - the defense is far ahead of the offense.
Evans was surely a bright spot, as he showed that the Ravens might have a truly reliable deep threat for the first time in a long time. Evans’ speed and smooth route running ability were on display throughout the first half, never more so than when he sprinted past a Chiefs defensive back on a go-route and caught a beautifully-thrown ball from Flacco for a 43-yard gain late in the second quarter. The long completion led to a 26-yard touchdown run by Ray Rice three plays later.
Minus Evans’ effort and a nice bounce-back performance by the offensive line after a rough outing against the Eagles last week, there wasn’t much to see from the starters. Flacco overthrew a handful of passes, the power running game was not fully on display and Torrey Smith again failed to make much of an impact at all.
It’s a good thing we’ve still got three weeks until the Ravens open the regular season against Pittsburgh. While the defense appears to be in mid-season form, the offense looks like it’ll need some work.