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The Breakdown: Mink's Five Thoughts on Preseason Opener

QB Tyler Huntley

The Ravens kicked off the 2023 season with, you guessed it, another preseason win.

Baltimore trailed the Eagles at halftime but rallied for a 20-19 victory in their lone preseason game at M&T Bank Stadium.

It took a red-zone stand, a two-point conversion interception, and a 60-yard field goal, but the Ravens ran their record preseason winning streak to 24 games, now spanning from 2016 all the way into 2023.

Here are my five thoughts on Saturday night's game:

Tyler Huntley rallied the offense, tightening his grip on the No. 2 job.

The Ravens are using the preseason games to determine who will back up Lamar Jackson. Tyler Huntley was already seemingly in the driver's seat, and he likely widened his lead in the opener.

Journeyman veteran Josh Johnson got the start, which is neat considering he was also part of the Ravens' first win in the streak seven years ago. He threw a perfect 7-yard touchdown pass to Devin Duvernay and managed the game well, but Baltimore's offense mustered just 114 total yards with him in the first half.

Tyler Huntley entered to start the second half and gave the offense an immediate jolt, marching them 75 yards down the field on 13 plays for a touchdown. Huntley started with a pinpoint pass down the sideline for 23 yards to tight end Travis Vokolek and finished with a back-shoulder 10-yard touchdown to Tylan Wallace. Huntley also had a pair of scrambles, showing that, while there will be fewer quarterback runs under Todd Monken, it's still a valuable club to have in the bag.

Zay Flowers is a shot of adrenaline.

Rookie first-round wide receiver had just one carry for one yard and somehow gave fans something to be excited about. For Ravens fans who haven't been out to a training camp practice, Flowers gave them a taste of the adrenaline he's going to inject into the offense.

Flowers may have had too much adrenaline pumping through his veins to start the game. He said he was so excited to play he didn't know what to do with himself before kickoff. Then he was flagged for a false start on the Ravens' first offensive play from scrimmage. On the next snap, the Ravens called a design pass to him in the backfield (thus, technically a carry) and Flowers left Eagles linebacker Christian Elliss grasping for air with a nasty cutback move. That's "Joystick" for you.

The Eagles couldn't keep up with Flowers. They were left grabbing and holding him. In his two series, Flowers drew two penalties – one for hands to the face and another for holding when he was about to break loose in the end zone. Flowers jawed at the defender after that one. They both knew what would have happened.

"Well, if you're hard to cover, guys will tend to grab sometimes," Head Coach John Harbaugh said.

With J.K. Dobbins watching, all the running backs looked good.

J.K. Dobbins was on the sideline throughout Saturday's game, in sweats and a black bucket hat, engaging with his teammates. What he saw was a strong effort from the rest of the Ravens' running backs.

Gus Edwards looked strong, and Melvin Gordon III looked shifty. Justice Hill broke off the game's longest offensive play, a 37-yard reverse-course run in the first quarter that set up Baltimore's first touchdown. Undrafted rookie Keaton Mitchell had a 35-yard touchdown run negated by a holding penalty, but probably would have scored without it.

Of course, the Ravens are way better off with Dobbins back on the field as soon as possible. But Baltimore isn't moribund without him either.

"I feel like we have the best running back room in the league," Hill said.

The Ravens' defensive backs are scrappy.

Baltimore entered the game short-handed in the secondary and it showed early on. Due to injuries, the Ravens only had nine defensive backs who played.

They gave up some yardage – 178 in the first half, including 120 to sixth-round rookie quarterback Tanner McKee. Starting at cornerback, Brandon Stephens allowed a long completion that set up the Eagles for their first touchdown. The Ravens had a breakdown on a third-and-11 that left a receiver wide open for a 33-yard gain.

But the defense tightened up in the second half and delivered the win. Stephens was sticky in the end zone to force an incompletion and turnover on downs with the Eagles at the Ravens' 7-yard line late in the third quarter. Ar'Darius Washington intercepted what could have been a game-winning Eagles two-point conversion midway through the fourth quarter. Veteran Daryl Worley, who has converted to safety, forced a fourth-quarter fumble. Veteran cornerback Kevon Seymour had a couple wins.

The Ravens need their cornerbacks to get healthy and they could very well bring in more reinforcements, but they saw the grit of these guys fighting for spots.

Extra Points:

It was David Ojabo's first time playing a game in M&T Bank Stadium and, like Flowers, he looked a bit wound up. The Ravens' most important defensive player to take the field, Ojabo got caught trying to slice inside and left the edge wide open for a long run by fleet-of-foot Eagles backup quarterback Marcus Mariota. Harbaugh said he was pleased with Ojabo's physicality though. … The Ravens' upgrades at wide receiver were evident even though most of them didn't play. Duvernay, who was WR1 at one point last season, caught a touchdown in the preseason opener. Now he's WR 4 or 5 on this team. Tylan Wallace took the lead in the competition for the sixth spot, making a nifty catch while James Proche II fumbled on a punt return. … Ben Cleveland was beaten on third down on the Ravens' first offensive drive. Granted, the guy who beat him was the 9th-overall pick, Eagles defensive tackle Jalen Carter. Still, Cleveland's shot at the left guard spot has dissipated. He only played right guard and right tackle. … Tucker's 60-yard bomb looked like it could have been good from, dare I say, 67 yards. Any concern over Tucker's leg strength is out the window.

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