Instant analysis from the Ravens' 13-7 win over Bills
Sep 11, 2016 at 2:54 PM
Baltimore Sun columnist Mike Preston gives the Ravens mixed grades in the team's 13-7 win in their opening game of the 2016 season
The Ravens beat the Bills 13-7 to start the season 1-0. They will travel to play the Cleveland Browns next week.
Jeff Zrebiec, Ravens reporter: The Ravens' first-team offense was barely on the field together this summer, so you had to expect some rust. However, you would have still liked to have seen some more crispness and flow, not to mention a bigger commitment to the running game. The defense, meanwhile, exceeded all expectations. Dean Pees' group did a masterful job containing Tyrod Taylor and keeping the athletic quarterback in the pocket. The Ravens flew to the ball and only had a few breakdowns. The secondary, led by Shareece Wright and Eric Weddle, performed brilliantly. It's far too early to make any conclusions about the Ravens' defense. However, this was an impressive first act.
Mark Selig, Ravens editor: Can't complain with 1-0, but this was a bad Bills team the Ravens beat. If the Ravens played a bit better, the game could have been over in the third quarter. The defense was stout, aside from allowing a pair of 4th down conversions; the offense -- showing little faith in the running game -- failed in similar short-yardage situations. And special teams were uncharacteristically sloppy. The Bills made critical errors, including a dropped interception that would have been a game-changing pick-6. The Ravens can get away with a C-plus effort again next week in Cleveland.
Ron Fritz, sports editor: As expected, with quarterback Joe Flacco playing just a half of preseason football, the Ravens' offense was not in sync or crisp. Fortunately, the defense was. Time and time again, the different looks and blitzes the Ravens sent at Tyrod Taylor confused him. But this early in the season, any win is a good one.
Childs Walker, sports reporter: If you're going to open the season with a sloppy slog, you might as well win. Joe Flacco handled contact well and hooked up with his new deep threats, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman, for big gains. But the Ravens struggled to run the ball, especially in the second half, when they'd normally expect to wear an opponent down. The offensive line, with two rookies starting on the left side, failed to keep the Bills off Flacco and also hurt the Ravens with ill-timed false starts. On defense, linebacker Terrell Suggs, coming off a second torn Achilles, did not play with his old explosiveness. A strong all-around effort by the secondary compensated for the lack of a pass rush. If you believe the Ravens are a team in transition without a clear path to the playoffs, this performance probably did not change your mind. But again, 1-0 is better than the alternative.
Ed Lee, Ravens reporter: Thank goodness for the defense because the Ravens didn't exactly wow anyone with their offensive showing. They also got considerable help from a Buffalo Bills offense that looked like it was stuck in mud and couldn't figure out a way to get the ball to Sammy Watkins. Ravens coaches and players will say a win is a win, and facing the hapless Cleveland Browns next Sunday is a nice way to begin the season, but the Ravens can't keep this up for 16 straight games.
Mike Preston, columnist: It's always great to win the first game of the season because it at least points you in the right direction and gives you some confidence. But there are still a lot of questions surrounding this team because there weren't a lot of answers in the Ravens' win over Buffalo.
Peter Schmuck, columnist: There were some hiccups, but the Ravens defense shut down old friend Tyrod Taylor and the Bills offense so well that Joe Flacco could feel his way around in his first game in 10 months. Despite the lack of scoring, the Ravens got big plays from newcomer Mike Wallace and comeback receiver Breshad Perriman and some big runs from Justin Forsett and Terrance West. All in all, a nice way to start.