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Ravens at Rams Game Recap

Posted Aug 30, 2012

With most of the Ravens first teamers sitting out, St. Louis controlled the first half.

It wasn't pretty for the Ravens.

With most of the first teamers having the night off and St. Louis playing their starters, the Rams dominated the first half and went on to winG Thursday's preseason finale 31-17 at the Edward Jones Dome.

Joe Flacco, Ray Rice, Anquan Boldin, Torrey Smith, Ed Reed, Ray Lewis, Haloti Ngata, Lardarius Webb, Michael Oher and Matt Birk all watched the game from the sidelines.

But for the Ravens who were in the game – many of whom were fighting for a roster spot before Friday's roster cutdown – it could not have started much worse.

St. Louis scored on three of their first four drives and quarterback Sam Bradford moved the ball down the field with ease. He finished the day 11-of-16 for 175 yards and three touchdowns against Baltimore's backups.

"Every team does what they have to do in this game, and [Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher] felt like he had to play his [starters] for two quarters and he played all his guys so that's what he thought he needed to do," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "We didn't want to do that. We didn't play a lot of our guys at all."

Offensively, the Ravens struggled to move the ball and they punted or turned the ball over on five of their first six series. Their first points came midway through the third quarter.

St. Louis played their starters into the second quarter, and the group outplayed the Ravens' second and third teamers. Once the Rams pulled their starters, the game was more evenly matched and the St. Louis offense didn't score a touchdown in the second half.

"It was a great opportunity from that perspective to see how some of our backups match up," Harbaugh said. "As we look at the tape, I feel like there were probably some real good performances out there and some that weren't so good."

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor got the start and played the entire first half without much success. He finished the game 8-of-12 passing for 58 yards and had a costly fumble inside the Ravens 10-yard line that set up a Rams touchdown.

Fourth-year veteran Curtis Painter took over in the second half and produced mixed results. On Painter's first series, he threw two interceptions – the first was fumbled during the return and the Ravens recovered – and the second was returned for a touchdown. Painter did settle into a rhythm and finished the night 19-of-31 for 193 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions.

"I think Curtis has had a really good preseason. He's done well. He's a pro and I really like him a lot," Harbaugh said. "Whether we keep two or three quarterbacks, we have not made that decision yet. It will come down to whether we feel like we have the spot."

Some of the bright spots of the game were wide receivers Deonte Thompson and Logan Payne, who are competing for roster spots. Thompson had six receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown, and three kickoff returns for 93 total yards. Payne had five catches for 68 yards.   

"All in all, I was able to take advantage of some opportunities," Payne said. "It's kind of out of my hands now."

Rookie running backs Bernard Pierce and Bobby Rainey also had strong showings. Pierce got his first start of the preseason and finished the game with eight carries for 27 yards and Rainey was the second back to come into the game and he ended up with 74 all-purpose yards.  

"I think the hamstring is getting healthier, so we're starting to see a little more of what he's going to be capable of doing," Harbaugh said, referring to Pierce's injury at the start of training camp. "We did run the ball a lot in the first half; that was by design. … We got Bernard the reps and carries he's going to need because he's going to be important for us this year."

For the Ravens defense, the first half was a struggle as the group looked overmatched.

The Rams got on the board first with a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Austin Pettis, which capped off a nine-play, 94-yard drive. St. Louis then added to their lead when Bradford found Danny Amendola for a seven-yard touchdown pass on their next series, which was set up when Taylor was strip-sacked at the Ravens 8-yard line. The fumble set the Rams up with a first-and-goal situation and they quickly capitalized to go up 14-0.

On their third series, the Rams marched down the field and Bradford hit wide receiver Michael Hoomanawanui for a nine-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead 21-0. The drive was aided by a roughing the passer penalty on outside linebacker Sergio Kindle, which gave the Rams a first down after the Ravens stopped them on third down.

The Rams took a four-touchdown lead in the second half when cornerback Janoris Jenkins picked off a pass from Painter and returned it 76 yards for the touchdown.

But Painter rebounded on the next series and led the Ravens on a 14-play, 86-yard touchdown drive for their first score of the game. Painter capped off the drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass to tight end Billy Bajema to make the score 28-7. Painter would add another touchdown pass in the fourth quarter when he hit Thompson for an 11-yard score.

The field goal kickers added the other points, as Justin Tucker hit a 47-yard field goal and Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein connected on a 59-yard attempt. Tucker did miss his first attempt of the preseason, which came on a 57-yarder that was a little short.

The focus from Thursday's loss will quickly turn to roster cuts, as the Ravens have less than 24 hours to trim 22 players from their active roster to get to the 53-man requirement.

"You let it play out and to me those decisions become apparent," Harbaugh said.

Please Note

The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed on BaltimoreRavens.com represent those of individual authors, and unless quoted or clearly labeled as such, do not represent the opinions or policies of the Baltimore Ravens' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives. Authors' views are formulated independently from any inside knowledge and/or conversations with Ravens officials, including the coaches and scouts, unless otherwise noted.

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