Game Story: Ravens rout Falcons in exhibition opener

	080912 ATLANTA: Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones makes a first down catch past Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb during first quarter action in Atlanta on Thursday, August 9, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

080912 ATLANTA: Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones makes a first down catch past Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb during first quarter action in Atlanta on Thursday, August 9, 2012. CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

The Falcons’ first dress rehearsal for the 2012 season was a near disaster.

After a stellar start by the first-teamers, the Falcons’ reserves couldn’t stop the Ravens or move the ball on offense. They coughed up 24 consecutive points as Baltimore blasted the Falcons 31-17 at the Georgia Dome on Thursday night.

In addition to taking the thumping, the Falcons suffered two potentially major injuries in their lightly attended exhibition opener.

The Falcons’ starters came out with a strong performance. The first-team offense featured second-year wide receiver Julio Jones and scored two touchdowns.

 The first-team defense, playing new coordinator Mike Nolan’s marauding style, dominated the Ravens’ starters, won on third downs and put some thunderous hits on quarterback Joe Flacco.

“We got three three-and-outs in a row and that is something people might have questioned about us in the past,” linebacker Sean Weatherspoon said. “That has definitely been an emphasis that we’ve been working on because that’s one of the things that’s been a thorn in our side. We’ll take the positive from that.”

Linebacker Mike Peterson said, “I think it was pretty good. Early on, the first unit played good. We had three three-and-outs. That was good but you know how it is in the preseason so you can always find something to get better at.”

On special teams, punt returner Dominique Franks had a dazzling 45-yard punt return.

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, in an extensive exhibition-opener appearance, directed four series and played into the second quarter. Ryan was 9-of-13 passing for 155 yards, with one touchdown and one interception. He finished with a quarterback rating of 103.

Ryan and the offense opened in their no-huddle attack and marched down the field. After two carries by Michael Turner, Ryan went to work. He completed a 13-yard pass to Roddy White, followed by 26-yarder to Jones.

Then Ryan tossed a wide-receiver screen to Jones that gained 19 more yards. That play was the most important of the drive and was wildly received by the fans. New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter has been charged with improving the team’s screen attack.

Three plays later Ryan found Jones in the end zone for a 7-yard touchdown.

“We moved the ball down the field pretty well,” Ryan said. “We were able to put the ball in the end zone and that’s what you want to do.”

The offense was stymied on its next two possessions before it got back on track.

On the Falcons’ fourth possession, Jones caught passes for 15 and 36 yards to help set up a 2-yard touchdown run by running back Jacquizz Rodgers that made the score 14-0. Jones finished with six catches for 109 yards

“It felt great,” Jones said. “We’ve been working during OTA’s plus the offseason; this is kind of my first offseason and OTA’s. But just being able to go out there and connect like that was a really good feeling.”

Flacco picked on the Falcons’ linebackers, who had trouble covering the Ravens’ running backs. He drove the Ravens for a touchdown, a 9-yard pass to tight end Ed Dickson that made the score 14-7.

Ryan was replaced by Chris Redman and then John Parker Wilson, who drove the Falcons into Matt Bryant’s field-goal range late in the second quarter. Bryant added a 31-yard field goal to make the score 17-7 at halftime.

The Ravens added two touchdowns in the third quarter and another in the fourth for the final margin.

The mood at the Georgia Dome turned dour when second-year man Akeem Dent, scheduled to replace Curtis Lofton at middle linebacker, left the game with a concussion with 9:38 left in the second quarter.

Also, rookie fullback Bradie Ewing, a fifth-round draft pick competing with Mike Cox to replace former Pro Bowler Ovie Mughelli, left the game with a severe knee injury. He left the field on golf cart.

Neither Dent nor Ewing returned to the game. Dent likely will head into the NFL’s concussion-protocol program and could miss valuable time, and Ewing, depending on the severity of the injury, could be lost for the season.

Smith said he had no regrets that Dent was playing on special teams.

In addition to Dent and Ewing, the Falcons also played without wide receiver Harry Douglas, who suffered a rib injury in the controlled practice with the Tennessee Titans in Dalton on Monday.

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OTHER TOP STORIES

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–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog

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120 comments Add your comment

Cejay

August 9th, 2012
11:08 pm

Way to go Falcons, looked good !!

Cejay

August 9th, 2012
11:09 pm

Oh and by the way, hey Seen, nice 2 field goals..really ???…….fail !!!

Cejay

August 9th, 2012
11:21 pm

Matt Ryan was 9 of 13 for 155 yards, 1 TD
Drew Brees was 1-of-4 for 4 yards
Hmmmmmm, somebody had things all wrong earlier today

Bubba J.

August 9th, 2012
11:24 pm

First team looked damn good, I’m not too worried about them. Backup QB though? Redman is a pro QB, he’s probably more suited to to sell life insurance. JPW looked ok at times and under threw receivers at others. I hope the line can keep Ryan healthy. I still think we’ll be ok. Go Falcons!

Bubba J.

August 9th, 2012
11:25 pm

should have said Redman is NOT a pro qb. I’m sure he’s a nice guy but he should probably be managing a Denny’s somewhere, not be the backup for my favorite team.

Rick

August 9th, 2012
11:27 pm

Good game for the starters but we are THIN!

Ken

August 9th, 2012
11:29 pm

The new rules requiring no contact up to this point are causing the players to be physically unprepared for the collisions, resulting with injuries to some of our best players. They should be allowed to practice with hits.

Sam

August 9th, 2012
11:32 pm

The Falcons do not have a back-up quarterback, and they ought to be thinking seriously about getting one.

Nique

August 9th, 2012
11:35 pm

Glad to see the O-Line hold up, us get pressure, & Franks step up & take the lead on the punt return battle, actually would like to see him take over KR’s too, seeing as though he’s just serving as the 4th cb option for us. But I agree we aren’t deep enough at a few positions & having Dent cover kicks isn’t the best idea. That really sucks for Ewing, because it looks like a season ending injury, wonder what we’ll be doing to replace him, is Cox the answer & have Jason serve as the back up?

Brothas Hunt 2

August 9th, 2012
11:48 pm

1st Team O & D looked really good. Special Teams needs more work in camp. Forget all the talk about cutting Redman, he is the veteran QB that is getting paid to be Matt’s personal QB coach on the sideline during the regular season. On the other hand, after four seasons JPW should be cut after camp. The Falcons should give Dominique Davis a real shot because he is the only QB on the roster that can make plays with his arm and his feet. Travian Robertson proved tonight that he can play with the big boys.

BH2

Truth

August 9th, 2012
11:50 pm

Where are all the Julio haters now? Told you!

WTF

August 9th, 2012
11:53 pm

Didn’t get to see the game. How did the rooks do?

Gamer

August 9th, 2012
11:58 pm

DENT WITH A CONCUSSION, THIS DOESN’T BODE WELL FOR FALCONS LINEBACKERS CORP.

TD SHOULD STRONGLY CONSIDER FINDING A LINEBACKER THROUGH FREE AGENCY. OF COURSE ONE THAT’S INJURED FREE.

FURTHERMORE, DENT DON’T LOOK GOOD IN COVERAGE…..MAYBE HE WILL STEP IT UP IN REGULAR SEASON. WELL WHEN HE RECOVER FROM THE CONCUSSION.

GET WELL SOON DENT…..GOOD FORTUNES TO YOU AND BRADIE EWING….

J-Man

August 10th, 2012
12:10 am

Well guess we better keep Matt Ryan healthy or else we will become the Colts

[...] Game story: Ravens post 31-17 victory in preseason opener. [...]

Chub Rock

August 10th, 2012
12:39 am

Say what you want to Mike Smith but putting your starting MLB out there to cover punts and kicks when you are already thin at the position is just plain stupidity. The next stupid decision is the one related to Chris Redman being the backup QB. This guy should be coaching a high school football team somewhere in the midwest. If Matt goes done it’s a wrap on the season folks. Redman was outplayed by JPW and Davis tonight, statistically. Ewing is probably gone for the season. This will be a critical blow to his NFL career. If Cox can come on and play well this year, Ewing will be cut. Overall, 1st team looked very good and 2nd team looked decent. 3rd team needs a LOT of work. Peria Jerry flashed tonight, glad to see that. Travian Robertson is gonna end up taking Vance Walker roster spot IMO. Hawley is your starting center week 1. Did let Jerrell Harris even touch the field?

who dat

August 10th, 2012
12:39 am

HEY CEJAY.DREW BRESS 1 RING MATT RYAN 0 RINGS

[...] Falcons coach Mike Smith was not pleased with the overall effort against the Baltimore Ravens. [...]

Falclowns

August 10th, 2012
1:33 am

Glad I dont spend too much time following these guys.

gl

August 10th, 2012
1:35 am

Chris Redman does not appear to care, which was his demeanor last year. Why was John Parker Wilson bought in the game in such an awkward position? Let Redman clean up his mess, then maybe he will be more responsible. Dominique Davis showed mobility and accuracy. If the Falcons want to send a message that they mean business they should demand more from Redman or begin looking for a legitimate backup. Redman has been awful for two years and it is plain to see.

ravennation

August 10th, 2012
1:38 am

Ed Reed, Haloti Ngata and Ray Lewis did not play….and the Falcons played starters longer……still got spanked

ravennation

August 10th, 2012
1:38 am

but glad to see the acj forgot to mention that

[...] Falcons coach Mike Smith was not pleased with the overall effort against the Baltimore Ravens. [...]

ueeediot

August 10th, 2012
2:09 am

@gl JPW was put in that spot in the 2nd Q to see what he could do in the situation. Im sure he was told to treat the situation as a true 2 minute drill, play it as though you were down and need points to tie/win.

Redman is a pathetic attempt at a backup QB, is not progressing as a QB, and we are fortunate he is only making 875k this year.
This has been one of the largest failings of this coaching staff. They absolutely do not develop players and they dont cut players who are not developing.
Every year the Falcons have 2 or 3 wasted roster spots. Redman held spot #52 last year. Now that Weems is gone, Redman has moved to #53

How do you think the Ravens will do at the negotiating table and trading boards with Flacco in a contract season and Taylor showing promise…

@ravennation Its preseason dude, your first string offense played a full series into the 2nd against our 2nd string defense… chill out, youll get your chance to lose to Pittsburgh soon enough.

the truth

August 10th, 2012
2:12 am

Thunderous hits? Sounds like bounty type stuff going on.

Falcons > Everyone

August 10th, 2012
2:18 am

Ngata was chasing Ryan down on the reviewed-and-upheld incomplete rollout pass to Drew Davis in the 1st quarter.

Falcons > Everyone

August 10th, 2012
2:22 am

ravennation – Winning Preseason Week 1 and gloating is like wanting to be congratulated on being the best dressed man at a dress rehearsal. The scoreboard reads Ryan 1, Flacco 0 in head to head games that count. So, congratulations.

Falcons > Everyone

August 10th, 2012
2:23 am

Insert your “weak/noodle arm” or “can’t win a playoff game” blasts after the beep.

BEEP.

ueeediot

August 10th, 2012
2:28 am

Redman has a weak/noodle arm, is pathetic, and cannot win a playoff game. Heck, it took him 7 tries against a bad TB team from the 4yd line… cut him tomorrow.

Geekozy | .

August 10th, 2012
2:33 am

[...] The Falcons' first dress rehearsal for the 2012 season was a near disaster. After a stellar start by the first-teamers, the Falcons' reserves couldn't stop the Ravens or move the ball on offense. They coughed up 24 consecutive points as Baltimore … Game Story: Ravens rout Falcons in exhibition opener [...]

torgo

August 10th, 2012
3:01 am

The stat line on Davis won’t look so hot in the Friday paper, but he played well. His INT was off the hands of tight end prospect LaMark Brown. He also hit Tim Toone on the team’s longest pass play of the game, only to have it nullified by Tyler Horn’s holding penalty.

Hopefully we’ll see Davis playing with the second unit (at least a competent line, so that he won’t be scrambling on every pass attempt) in the next game or two. He has built a surprising chemistry with Tim Toone already. It would be nice to see what he could do throwing to guys like Kerry Meier, Kevin Cone, and perhaps even Roddy and Julio.

It certainly couldn’t be too much worse than what we saw from Redman or JPW.

Headline Writers Need Help

August 10th, 2012
3:04 am

When I saw the headline, I thought the score was 60-0. When did 31-17 become a rout?

torgo

August 10th, 2012
3:05 am

“Rout” is a bit harsh for a headline. The first unit left with a 14-0 lead. The second unit left at halftime up 17-7.

It was the scrubs that committed three turnovers, countless penalties and defensive lapses, and got taken to the woodshed 24-0 in the second half.

If it weren’t for the injuries to Dent and Ewing, it would almost be the perfect preseason game. The starters played well, the coaches got film on the second unit showing where they need improvement, and the scrubs made it really easy to cut them.

mr zizzle

August 10th, 2012
3:43 am

This article was poorly written. To say the Ravens routed the Falcons was true for the score, but not for the starting units. The Falcons on offense and defense dominated the Ravens! The Falcons linebackers seem to be the only concern.

Columbus

August 10th, 2012
4:01 am

Now if only UGA would work on their screen play program! They have sucked at running the screen play worse than the Falcons. One of the BEST PLAYS IN FOOTBALL AND UGA HAS SUCKED AT IT UNDER BOBO…..MAYBE HE IS TAKING NOTES!

Columbus

August 10th, 2012
4:07 am

Hope both Dent and Ewing are not as bad shape as it appeared both have and return 100% healthy soon…

GHOZT

August 10th, 2012
5:13 am

Redman has always sucked, I’m scared whenever he plays. Julio made some tremendous plays like expected and the first corp looked great. As far as jpw he needs more playing time he really is a winner all he need to do is eat some wheaties to get the ball a little futher. And also I think the dirty bird dance is a jinx every time someone do it we loose the game. but oh well let’s go birds………………………………………”……………………………………………………l..l.

Ace

August 10th, 2012
5:24 am

31-17 is not a rout…

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution [...]

The Burner Turner

August 10th, 2012
6:20 am

Ewing is going to be missed. Dent tackling on special teams is stupid. Nice going Coach. The Falcons first team played well enough but when the young players lose the game even in exhibition games, it does not bode well for real games when some of these guys will be needed.

Whadda Ya Know?

August 10th, 2012
6:21 am

Rout is a pretty strong word DLed. Bottom line is this team doesn’t have good backups. Our first team would have embarrassed them if they played the entire game. Their first finally scores against our second team and they think they accomplished something? I’m pleased with what I saw of our starters…it’s a step in the right direction after Mularkey and BVG.

Esquire

August 10th, 2012
6:23 am

1st team looked solid. Hate the injury to Dent and Ewing, especially Ewing…..it didn’t look good. Our starters stuffed Fowl up and the rest of the Ravens. Good Job! Now just hope we don’t have to play too deep into the reserves……………!

Esquire

August 10th, 2012
6:27 am

Falclowns

August 10th, 2012
1:33 am
Glad I dont spend too much time following these guys.

________________________________________

Yep, you sure proved that.

Esquire

August 10th, 2012
6:30 am

That umpire sure must have had a good time in Arizona, can’t get it off of his mind (or tongue).

DLed, there is no such thing as a rout in preseason football………..jeezus H. man.

Esquire

August 10th, 2012
6:33 am

drew wheeze 1 for 4 and 4 yards last night in a butt whuppin’ from New England Patriots. 1st loss of many more to come this season.

rolari

August 10th, 2012
6:35 am

I agree Im not worried about our Starters on defense, offense or special teams with the being the only exception… We scored on baltimore and we stopped them from scoring until we took ALL of our starters out and their starters still had a tough time. We played aggressive we got to the ball but I would have loved to see our starters create some turnovers even though they only had 3 drives to do it. Still I like 3 and outs (for the opposing team of course)

rolari

August 10th, 2012
6:41 am

@ raven nation Ed reed did play look at the julio TD highlight so did Ngata… Man people are always trying to make themselves feel better when their starters get scrubbed then want to turn around and say “we beat you” in the preseason when the fact is you would have really lost had we played our starters the whole game. Julio 106 yds and 1 TD in 1 qtr!!!!!gimmie a break. And all of your offense started what was the excuse for three and outs til we took all of our starters out and Let you score finally Huh?? You forgot your playbook in the hotel. We lost the preseason game but baltimore lost alot more SELF-RESPECT… Just say it the falcons 1st team made the ravens 1st team look like high school JV

Esquire

August 10th, 2012
6:43 am

Denver 31-3 over Da Bears! Even the Tribune and Sun-Times didn’t call that a rout.

Jimmy Crack

August 10th, 2012
7:03 am

Really, DOL, it’s an exhibition game. If anything, the headline should read,

“Falcons Starters shut out Ravens Starters, But Falcons Backup QBs Play Poorly.”

Esquire

August 10th, 2012
7:14 am

Jimmy Crack………..aw hell, nobody would read your article, you told the whole story in the byline!