Not much went right for the Ravens through the first 30 minutes, as they have put up just 76 total yards, and trail 10-0 at the break.
Here are a few quick-hit notes on the first half of play:
- We're seeing tonight why Matt Ryan is considered the more polished quarterback when compared to his fellow 2008 first-round QB, Joe Flacco. Ryan appears calm in the pocket, is going through his progressions nicely, and is taking what the Ravens' defense gives him. He's dissected the Baltimore D for 160 yards and a touchdown on 20-of-28 passing. Flacco, on the other hand, appears jittery and uncomfortable, and is having trouble dealing with the Falcons' pressure. Flacco threw for just 31 yards in the first half.
- Did you see the one play where Ryan read that Chris Carr was coming on a corner blitz, called an audible at the line, and then hit wide receiver Michael Jenkins on a hot route for a nice gain? That's something that we rarely - if ever - see Flacco do.
- The Falcons cleared liked what they saw in the Baltimore pass defense when watching film this week. And I don't mean that in a good way. Atlanta has only handed off to stud running back Michael Turner 10 times, while Ryan has dropped back to pass a whopping 28 times, the most in a first half in his NFL career. Atlanta is spreading the Ravens out wide and forcing them to put five and sometimes six defensive backs on the field on most plays. They're also running a hurry-up look, which is giving Baltimore trouble.
- The Ravens have had big-time issues getting off the field defensively. Atlanta has been incredibly successful on third downs, leading to a complete domination in terms of time of possession. The Falcons have held the ball for over 21 minutes compared to just 8:34 for Baltimore. In a hot Georgia Dome, the Ravens' defenders might start to wear down soon if this keeps up.
- A week after getting deactivated for the first time this season, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is back in uniform, but he's not exactly making a case for more playing time. Ellerbe had a bad block in the back penalty on a punt return, and was flagged for illegal contact on a third down late in the second quarter, giving the Falcons a big first down and allowing them to get a chip-shot field goal just before the half. Ellerbe has been flagged for two penalties tonight, which is two more than every other player in uniform combined.
- The Ravens might have to start keeping tight end Todd Heap to block more and use Ray Rice or Willis McGahee to help chip the defensive ends on the outside, because the Baltimore offensive line is having trouble containing Atlanta's pass rush. Flacco needs more time to look down the field and go through his reads.
- Baltimore's league-worst punt return unit continues to somehow get, well, worse. Lardarius Webb fumbled a punt in the Ravens' territory in the second quarter, allowing the Falcons to tack on three more points late in the half. John Harbaugh, a former special teams coordinator, must be frustrated beyond belief at the performance of his return unit.
- Where is Anquan Boldin? The wide receiver doesn't have a single catch so far.