The Ravens didn't have too much to feel good about after last week's preseason loss to the Eagles, but they bounced back with an improved effort tonight against the Chiefs. The third-stringers pulled off the comeback win, but there were signs of progress from the important guys. Here is what is on my mind after the 31-13 win.
1. I was surprised that Joe Flacco played into the third quarter, but it was clear the Ravens wanted to get some things ironed out on offense before taking him out. Flacco was erratic by his standards, completing just 12 of his 24 passes, and he was out of sync with Anquan Boldin, in particular. But I was impressed by how Flacco handled the Kansas City pass rush. He moved around in the pocket well, didn’t take a sack and stepped into his throws when he could. There’s still a lot of work to be done before Week 1, though.
2. Dwayne Bowe beat Jimmy Smith for two catches for 40 yards, but I liked what I saw from the rookie cornerback when he was matched up on the Pro Bowl wide receiver. He was physical and got a good jam on Bowe on a couple of plays. And even on those two completions, Smith was right there running alongside Bowe. Side note: I also liked what I saw from Cary Williams, who is making a case to start.
3. I don’t know if Ravens fans are ready to exhale, but it was a relief that the offensive line played better against the Chiefs than they did against the Eagles. With Bryan Mattison, Oniel Cousins and rookie Jah Reid running with the first-team offense, the Ravens were able to keep Flacco’s jersey pretty clean and open up a few running lanes for Ray Rice (they dominated on Rice’s 26-yard touchdown run). The Ravens still need to sign a veteran to round out the line before the season opener -- and I think they will.
4. Lee Evans had one heck of an unofficial debut. He was brought in to stretch the field and he hauled in a 43-yard pass down the sideline. He also showed off his explosiveness and soft hands on a couple of shorter throws. He looked very comfortable with Flacco (though I’m not sure why it looked like Flacco and Boldin were playing together for the first time tonight). Evans looks to be a good addition. Kudos to Ozzie Newsome on that trade.
5. If there was anyone out there who didn’t agree with the decision to sign Vonta Leach at fullback, they are no doubt sold after tonight. Not only was he up to his billing as a run blocker, he also caught a pass in the flat in the second quarter and delivered the boom on Chiefs linebacker Brandon Siler. That’s what the Ravens were talking about when they said they wanted to get back to smashmouth football in 2011.
6. I know I shouldn’t get too worked up about a pair of preseason games, but how did Pernell McPhee slip into the fifth round? He was in the backfield often tonight as he built on his strong showing a week ago. Are we sure this is the same guy who had just seven sacks in two seasons at Mississippi State?
7. Rookie QB Tyrod Taylor showed flashes of both potential and inconsistency as he led the Ravens on a fourth-quarter comeback. He completed five of 11 passes for 88 yards as he while taking the offense on two touchdown drives, and he capped off one of those drives with a touchdown run after he juked fellow rookie Justin Houston out of his jock. Remember, though, Taylor did this against third-stringers, and while I think he will eventually be a capable backup to Flacco, he’s not the answer right now.