The Ravens brought a dramatic flair to the preseason finale.
The preseason wrapped up Thursday night in the Georgia Dome with a 20-19 loss to the Atlanta Falcons, bringing Baltimore's record to 1-3 in the exhibition contests.
Veteran players like Joe Flacco and Terrell Suggs watched from the sideline, as coaches gave the starters the night off as* *they've historically done. Only 43 players of the 75-man roster saw game action.
With the starters resting, the reserves struggled for most of the night until an unlikely late-game comeback attempt. The Ravens scored two touchdowns and blocked a punt in less than two minutes late in the fourth-quarter, which nearly erased a 14-point deficit.
Undrafted rookie receiver Daniel Brown was almost the hero. He blocked a punt to give the Ravens a chance at a comeback, and then hauled in a 10-yard touchdown a few plays later. The Ravens tried for the two-point conversion to get the win, but didn't convert on the play.
Quarterback Matt Schaub was 7-for-7 passing for 88 yards in his two series of work, and Bryn Renner played the rest of the game. Renner completed 18 of his 24 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to the Brown touchdown pass, Renner connected on a 6-yard pass with wide receiver Jeremy Butler in the end zone.
The defense was solid, allowing Atlanta to gain just 211 yards of total offense, but they were put in bad positions by the special teams units. The Ravens allowed a 70-yard punt return by Justin Hardy and then Asa Jackson coughed up the football on a punt return of his own. The two costly miscues led to 10 points for Atlanta.
The Falcons' only other touchdown came on a 1-yard run on their opening drive. They didn't trail the rest of the game.
Quote of the Game
"I gave it all I got, and I hope I put myself in the discussion. It was an experience of a lifetime." -- Wide receiver Daniel Brown
Turning Point of the Game
Jackson's fumble on a punt return early in the third quarter took away momentum from a defensive stop, and gave the Falcons good field position. Atlanta capitalized on the turnover, scoring a touchdown on a 25-yard pass to Carlton Mitchell just five plays later. The turnover and ensuing touchdown gave the Falcons a 20-6 lead, and the Ravens couldn't close the gap.
- The Falcons got on the board first with a scoring drive on their opening possession. Fullback Collin Mooney plunged in for the 1-yard touchdown, which came on a broken play after a fumbled snap popped right into his hands.
- Wide receiver Marlon Brown sparked the offense on their second drive by hauling in a 42-yard fingertips grab down the sidelines from quarterback Matt Schaub. The long reception set up a 22-yard field goal by Justin Tucker to make the score 7-3. Injuries have limited Brown in the preseason, and getting on track in the preseason finale was a good sign.
- Jackson came up with a big play on a 53-yard punt return to set up another field goal by Tucker. Jackson showed good quickness and elusiveness getting into the open field, but ultimately tripped untouched while trying to juke the punter.
- The Falcons came up with an impressive special teams play of their own when Justin Hardy returned a punt 70 yards to get to the Ravens' 5-yard line. Hardy shook off tackling attempts from linebacker Arthur Brown and safety Nick Perry, which allowed him to get into the open field. The long return set up a field goal by Atlanta, extending their lead to 13-6.
- Jackson wiped away the positive vibes from his long return earlier when he fumbled a punt in the second half, which led to another Falcons touchdown. Jackson fumbled at Atlanta's 38-yard line, and the Falcons capitalized with a 25-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Carlton Mitchell a few plays later.
- The Ravens made a late comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, and Butler found the end zone on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Renner. The touchdown cut the score to 20-13 with just over two minutes left in the game.
- Undrafted rookie Daniel Brown gave the Ravens a chance at a last-minute comeback by blocking a punt with less than a minute to play. He then caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Renner* *to cut Atlanta's lead to 20-19. The Ravens went for the two-point conversion to go for the win, but the pass to fullback Kiero Small fell incomplete.
WR Daniel Brown:The undrafted rookie saved his best for last this preseason. He came up with the big plays on special teams to block the punt, and also hauled in some tough catches on offense. He finished the night with three catches for 30 yards, including the 10-yard touchdown. He also made a contested leaping grab the previous series in the red zone to extend the drive and setup a touchdown pass.
On The Horizon
The next two days will be a difficult time around the Under Armour Performance Center, as the Ravens have to trim 22 players from the roster to get down to the 53-man squad by Saturday's 4 p.m. deadline. The sting of cutting players won't linger for long, as the Ravens will quickly shift all their attention to Week 1 and the Denver Broncos. The Ravens open the regular season in Denver in 10 days, giving them some time to get healthy before facing quarterback Peyton Manning and an explosive Broncos offense.
The Baltimore Ravens travel to Atlanta to battle the Falcons in week 4 of the 2015 Preseason!