Was last night's Battle of the Beltways not the best possible preseason football game you could ask for?
It had a ton of points, most starters playing into the third quarter, a late comeback and a thrilling last-minute game-winner.
The 20,000 or so who stuck around M&T Bank Stadium to watch the end of the Ravens' 34-31 win over the Redskins sure got their money's worth. Wait, I take that back. Those people paid regular season prices for a preseason game; they didn't get anywhere close to their money's worth.
Anyway, here are my "Three up, three down" from last night:
Ray Rice, RB
Quietly, Rice has put together a nice little preseason. Getting increased minutes and touches each week, the Ravens' starting running back has delivered improved results every time out. After recording just seven rushing yards in limited reps in the preseason opener against the Eagles, Rice had 44 yards and a touchdown on seven carries last week, and followed that up with 72 yards on the ground and another TD last night. The fourth-year back is averaging a healthy 4.9 yards per carry this preseason and has shown the breakaway speed and big-play potential which carried the Ravens' offense at times in the last few years.
Anquan Boldin, WR
Boldin started the preseason with a pedestrian two catches for 27 yards through the Ravens' first two contests, but he found his groove last night, grabbing five balls for 73 yards and a touchdown. The TD was vintage Boldin - he ran a skinny post in the red zone, found some space over the middle, and used his big frame to pull in the Flacco pass. I maintain that the Ravens would be wise to have Boldin run more slants, quick outs and other short patterns where Flacco can get him the ball quickly and let the physical receiver pick up yardage after the catch. That's his strength, not 50-yard fly patterns.
Kris Wilson, TE
As time has gone on since Wilson signed with the Ravens two and a half weeks ago, the veteran appears to have slowly been boxing out Davon Drew for the third tight end job. Last night, Wilson took another leg up on his competition, making three grabs for 47 yards. An eight-year vet, Wilson has lots of NFL experience, and while he isn't a huge receiving threat, the 6-foot-2, 245-lb. tight end is a good blocker and has sure hands. Drew has been silent during the preseason, while Wilson continues to make some noise.
Domonique Foxworth, CB
Any step forward for Foxworth that doesn't involve the cornerback returning to crutches or the operating tackle is a positive one. That said, Foxworth doesn't look like he's ready for regular season action nearly 13 months after tearing his ACL. The Maryland product got burned a couple times last night, most notably when Skins wide receiver Anthony Armstrong blew by him on a go-route in the first quarter. Foxworth doesn't have the necessary recovery speed at this point, and if the games that mattered began tomorrow, he couldn't be counted on to start or contribute big-time minutes.
Seriously, can we just retire this one already? Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron must have an absolute infatuation with the end-around given how often he's called it over the last two years with such little results. Last season, it was Donte' Stallworth who got the call on the end-around seemingly every week. Last night, it was Torrey Smith. The Redskins saw the play coming the whole way and brought Smith down for a seven-yard loss. Please, Cam, do away with the handoffs to the wide receivers for now, would ya?
Torrey Smith, WR
You have to feel for Smith, a guy who is a model citizen and works hard, but is really struggling early on in his rookie season. It's still very early, and no one should dare call Smith a bust after a month, but he sure hasn't looked good to this point. His overall numbers through three games: two catches, eight yards, minus-seven yards rushing. The Ravens' second-round wide receiver dropped two more passes last night, including one which hit him squarely in the chest with no defensive back within a three-yard radius. Smith acknowledges he's pressing at this point (more on that later), but he needs to calm down and let the game come to him.