After the Ravens defense forced six turnovers in a preseason-opening victory over the New Orleans Saints, it once again impressed during a 20-3 victory against the Carolina Panthers on Saturday night in Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Panthers were able to get into Ravens territory during their first four drives, but were only able to come away with a 41-yard field goal. Carolina entered the red zone during its first drive after intercepting Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley, but linebacker Patrick Queen stuffed running back Chuba Hubbard at the 1-yard-line on third-and-goal. The Panthers went for it on fourth down, but safety DeShon Elliott read the play perfectly, knifing into the backfield to stop Hubbard behind the line of scrimmage.
“The goal line stand was big,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “DeShon and all those guys did a great job there.”
In the middle of the first quarter, after Panthers backup quarterback Will Grier connected with Hubbard for a 29-yard gain, Elliott burst through the offensive line and managed to sack the former West Virginia star. Safety Chuck Clark followed by forcing Hubbard to fumble, but Carolina managed to recover the ball.
Elliott finished the game with four tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. After the game, Clark said he and Elliott could become a formidable duo during the season.
“We got so much more to climb,” said Clark, who had three tackles. “Just vibing together and then it carries over to the field. We hold each other to a standard that we want to be the best duo in the league.”
The Ravens held the Panthers to 189 total yards, including 18 in the second half. The Ravens defense was disciplined, committing just one penalty, and held Carolina to 2-for-11 on third-down opportunities. The Ravens also recorded two sacks, one each by Elliott and defensive end Chris Smith. The Panthers managed just eight first downs all game.
“That’s how we practice,” said inside linebacker Malik Harrison, who finished with three tackles. “We try to not have any penalties in practice so we just pulled it over to the game.”
Linebacker L.J. Fort injures knee
Inside linebacker L.J. Fort limped off the field in the second quarter after injuring his knee, and did not return. Harbaugh said he hasn’t received a final word on the injury, but it doesn’t look good. Harbaugh believes Fort got stuck in the turf and said that he will likely get an MRI tomorrow.
“L.J. has been playing great [and] practicing great,” Harbaugh said. “He’s been leading our guys. He’s in the weight room every morning at 5:30. So it’s gonna be an unfortunate injury for him if that’s what it turns out to be.”
Winning streak stretches to 19 games
The Ravens extended their preseason win streak to 19 games, tying Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers for the longest in NFL history. The Packers’ 19-game winning streak stretched from 1959 to 1962.
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“It’s a good feeling to have just because you can see the type of culture that we have as a team,” said Huntley, who finished 24-for-34 for 187 yards and an interception and rushed for 23 yards on seven carries. “We strive to win every time we step on the field and it just shows you how much depth as a team that we have to just keep rolling out wins.”
- Ravens cornerback Chris Westry was reportedly fined for his taunting penalty against the New Orleans Saints last week. According to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, Westry, Saints defensive tackle Jalen Dalton and Indianapolis Colts running back Benny LeMay were each fined $3,667. Penalizing taunting is expected to be a point of emphasis for NFL officials this season.
- Tight end Mark Andrews didn’t play but was on the field warming up before the game. Andrews left practice on Thursday after requiring medical assistance for “pretty serious cramping,” according to Harbaugh.
- In addition to Andrews, quarterback Lamar Jackson, wide receivers Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Sammy Watkins, cornerback Marlon Humphrey, and offensive linemen Ronnie Stanley and Tyree Phillips were among the Ravens who did not play Saturday.
- James Proche II has received a lot of praise for his performance throughout training camp. However, during the Ravens two preseason games, the second-year wide receiver has been limited. Proche recorded two receptions for 6 yards on two targets Saturday. Proche was targeted twice last week against the Saints, and recorded one catch for 8 yards.
- Defensive back Nigel Warrior had a solid game, recording four tackles and a pass breakup. With players like Warrior, Westry and undrafted safety Ar’Darius Washington trying to find a spot in the Ravens secondary, Harbaugh said the decisions the team will have to make in the coming weeks as it trims its roster from 85 to 53 players will be very difficult. “It’s the problem that you work very hard to have in terms of acquiring players and developing players,” Harbaugh said. “It’s a great problem but a tough problem.”