The Ravens' preseason opener began and ended about as well as it could.
The first-team offense and defense both dominated in Thursday night's preseason opener, putting Baltimore up 14-0 in the first quarter.
The Saints charged back behind their second-teamers, but third-string quarterback Bryn Renner got the last laugh, leaping into the end zone with two seconds left to give the Ravens a dramatic (especially for the preseason) 30-27 win.
The Ravens' first-team offense cruised down the field with a 16-play, 80-yard touchdown drive in its first and only action of the night.
Quarterback Joe Flacco went 5-for-6 for 33 yards and a 17-yard carry. Running back Lorenzo Taliaferro rushed 12 times for 36 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown on fourth down to cap the Ravens' opening drive in the end zone.
The first-team defense was equally dominant, holding the Saints to back-to-back three-and-outs. New Orleans didn't start Pro Bowler Drew Brees, however, going with Luke McCown instead. The Saints only netted 11 yards on their first two drives.
Baltimore's second-team defense struggled and backup quarterback Matt Schaub had a stronger first half than second. The combination of the two allowed the Saints to tie the game at 20-20 in the fourth quarter, then take the lead after a Renner interception deep in his own zone.
Renner led a 16-play drive in the final two minutes, capped off by a 1-yard roll out and scramble into the end zone, sending Baltimore's sideline into a celebration reminiscent of a regular-season game. Renner received a big hug from Head Coach John Harbaugh and Gatorade bath from Terrell Suggs.
Quote Of The Day"I'd like to see a two-minute stop, for once, maybe the first time in about eight years." – Head Coach John Harbaugh at halftime.
Turning Point Of The GameFacing a fourth-and-20 on the final game-winning drive, Renner dumped a short pass to rookie second-round tight end Maxx Williams. Williams charged up field, hurdled one Saints defender then plowed into another to pick up the first down – with 2 yards to spare.
- Facing a fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line in the first quarter, Harbaugh kept the offense on the field. The middle of the Ravens' offensive line and fullback Kyle Juszczyk paved the way for running back Lorenzo Taliaferro to drive his way into the end zone.
- Wide receiver Michael Campanaro only made one catch in the first half, but he made it worthwhile. He streaked across the deep secondary to haul in a wide-open pass from Matt Schaub, then scampered up the sideline for a 45-yard touchdown to put the Ravens up 14-0.
- The Saints started to carve up the Ravens' second-team defense at the end of the first half. Third-string New Orleans quarterback Ryan Griffin found tight end Josh Hill down the middle of the field for 25 yards, then running back Khiry Robinson for another 21 on the next play. The Saints exposed the Ravens' inside linebackers and perimeter defense, cutting the Ravens' lead to six points, 20-14, at halftime.
- After a solid first half in which he went 7-of-12 for 104 yards and a touchdown, backup quarterback Matt Schaub threw an interception on his first pass of the second half. The Saints turned it into a field goal.
- Kicker Justin Tucker is so automatic. With the game tied at 20-20 in the fourth quarter, Renner drove into Saints'territory but stalled there. Tucker entered and boomed a 51-yard field goal through the uprights that would have been good from 60 yards. Tucker went 3-for-3 on his field-goal attempts on the night.
- Rookie outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith halted a potential game-winning or tying drive with a sack for an 8-yard loss. It's the first sack of his NFL career and he'll take it, even if came on a missed block.
- The Saints scored a late fourth-quarter touchdown on a power toss to rookie running back Marcus Murphy. He went into the end zone untouched on the first play after the two-minute warning.
Standout Performer: RB Lorenzo TaliaferroThe Ravens entered the game without a clear No. 2 running back. Taliaferro made a step forward in proving he deserves the nod behind Justin Forsett. He ran 12 times for 36 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown plunge, and showed he can catch with two snags for 18 yards.
Stat Of The GameRenner finished the night as the hero, and he had a scrappy final 14-play, 80-yard drive. Renner went 5-of-12 on the game-winning drive. Flacco didn't have a bad night himself, finishing with a 89.6 quarterback rating and having his only incompletion on a throw-away.
On The Horizon
Next week, the Ravens will travel to Philadelphia for three days of practice with the Eagles before facing them in their second preseason game next Saturday.