The pressure was on.
Prior to the Ravens' 31-13 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs on Friday night, coach John Harbaugh publicly expressed his desire to see improved play from the offensive line, especially in the department of keeping the quarterbacks upright.
Statistically, the Ravens got what they had hoped for. Rookie Tyrod Taylor was sacked twice, the Chiefs were credited with three quarterbacks hits, and Taylor and starter Joe Flacco were flushed out of the pocket several times, but pass protection seemed better at M&T Bank Stadium.
By comparison, Flacco and Taylor were sacked a combined six times by the Philadelphia Eagles last Thursday night.
"We had to get a lot better than we did in our last game," left tackle Michael Oher said. "That's the thing with camp. In the preseason, you just want to get better from week-to-week and improve because that's what it's all about. Getting better and getting ready for the regular season."The improvement was somewhat surprising considering that starting right guard Marshal Yanda was out due to back spasms. Oniel Cousins moved from right tackle to right guard and rookie Jah Reid started at right tackle.
Reid showed the power expected of him on running plays, and although Cousins was guilty of one false start, his block opened the hole for running back Ray Rice's 26-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
"I love playing next to Cousins," Reid said. "He's a great guy, and I felt like we had a pretty good chemistry out there. I know all these guys on the offensive line real well. You can put any group of us five out there, and you know we're going to play as hard as we can. That's just us."
In his post-game comments, Harbaugh defended the team's pass protection after a reporter pointed out that Flacco was doing a lot of scrambling.
"I thought the protection was pretty good," Harbaugh said. "I think in practice, we got more pressure, and Joe was kind of ready to move out, and then the young line stepped up on the right side and really did a pretty good job. I can't wait to see the tape and see how it worked out, but I thought the line did ok. We'll see on tape though."