Stoney Case came up big when he needed to at the end of the game, but if he had completed two big passes in the first half, the Ravens would have blown out the Falcons. He also was slow picking up the blitz until late in the game. It's a good thing for the Ravens that the Falcons' offensive standouts, Jamal Anderson and Chris Chandler, were sidelined, because Case was cold.
Errict Rhett had his third straight game of rushing for more than 100 yards, carrying 27 times for 136. He paced the offense while Case was struggling. Fullback Chuck Evans was sufficient on lead blocking, but the Ravens still need to get him more involved in the passing attack.
The Ravens had 192 receiving yards, but that's deceiving. The receivers had a hard time getting separation in the first half, and Jermaine Lewis (two catches, 6 yards) was again not a part of the offense. Justin Armour came up big at the end, but he needs to be more consistent, as does Patrick Johnson. The receivers blocked well, but tight end Aaron Pierce needs to do a better job.
For a unit that lost two starters, tackles Jonathan Ogden and Harry Swayne, during the game, it performed well. The Ravens are overpowering their opponents up front, especially up the middle with center Jeff Mitchell and guards Jeff Blackshear and Everett Lindsay. Lindsay did a great job of trap blocking yesterday.
Both ends, Michael McCrary and Rob Burnett, played well, and Burnett finished with seven tackles. The Ravens also got a solid effort from end Fernando Smith, who slid down to play some at tackle when Larry Webster left with a turf toe injury. Smith also recovered a fumble.
With Jamie Sharper stepping up his game, the Ravens' trio is playing as well as any in the league. Peter Boulware is outstanding at rushing the passer and middle linebacker Ray Lewis is all over the field. The frightening thing is that the three are still so young.
The Ravens have to find a way to awaken second-year cornerback Duane Starks, who seems uninterested and is playing 10 yards off receivers. Rookie cornerback Chris McAlister was the best secondary player on the field for the Ravens yesterday. Safety Rod Woodson, though, may have played his worst game with two penalties and a missed tackle that led to two scores.
Coach Brian Billick wasn't extremely happy with kicker Matt Stover or some of the short punts by Kyle Richardson. The Ravens' cover units were solid, however, allowing only 12 yards on two punt returns and 60 on four kickoffs.