While the Ravens' first two preseason games were rather tame, both Baltimore and Washington's defenses got plenty of hits in Saturday's third preseason contest.
Each team notched three sacks on the night. The Ravens had seven quarterback knockdowns while the Redskins had five.
There was a big difference between the two styles, however. The Redskins brought blitz pressure from every angle on just about every play. Meanwhile, the Ravens let their front four do all the work.
Thus, it was a test of the Ravens offensive linemen and other blockers, as well as Baltimore's defensive linemen and outside linebackers.
Quarterback Joe Flacco didn't take a sack in the first two preseason games, bringing hope that the pass protection had improved. Flacco was sacked the second-most times of any quarterback in the NFL last year (48).
Flacco took some whacks on Saturday, however, with the Redskins bringing so much blitz pressure.
"Their game plan, obviously, was to load the box, to send the house," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "It was a Mike [linebacker] and the Sam, it was a Sam and a strong safety, it was the Mike and the Will, it was a Will and the free safety, pretty much the whole game."
Redskins Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jason Hatcher got the first sack on Flacco after bull rushing Ravens Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda. It was more of a coverage sack as Flacco held onto the ball longer than he wanted after not finding anyone open.
Redskins Pro Bowl outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan got the other sack on Flacco, as he beat right tackle Rick Wagner around the edge. The Reskins also brought inside pressure and the pocket collapsed.
On one drive, Flacco was on the run and hit three times. He got rid of the ball somehow on two of the plays, but it was definitely the most pressure he's seen this preseason.
Overall, however, Harbaugh was happy with his offensive line's performance.
"I thought the offensive line actually played pretty well," Harbaugh said. "It's not just the offensive line. I'm sure the guys were beat one-on-one a little bit. I didn't see any mistakes, in terms of errors. It seems like we were on the right guys."
On the flip side, the Ravens got to the Redskins quite a bit too, but using just four rushers.
A couple of rookies got in on the action as third-round safety Terrence Brooks and second-round defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan both ran Robert Griffin III out of bounds when the quarterback was trying to turn the corner. Brooks' sack forced a field goal on Washington's first drive.
"He tried to outrun me and I pride myself on being fast and not letting people do that," Brooks said. "I just had to go make a play."
Outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil was having his way with the Redskins tackles, including Pro Bowler Trent Williams, who is six inches taller and 82 pounds bigger than Dumervil. Still, Dumervil got under Williams and tossed him to the side a couple of times. Eventually, Dumervil ripped Griffin to the ground.
Getting pressure without blitzing is a good sign for Baltimore's front line.
"Great calls by [Defensive Coordinator Dean] Pees," Dumervil said. "When you've got guys covering and guys pushing the pocket, we're pretty athletic up front, so we're going to get after the quarterback. … Whenever you go against a Pro Bowler, you want to put your best foot forward."
The Ravens secondary held up well without its top three cornerbacks in Lardarius Webb (back), Jimmy Smith (chest) and Asa Jackson (ankle), and Harbaugh gave some of that credit to the pass rush.
"[Quarterback] sacks are one thing – we had a few of those," Harbaugh said. "Quarterback hits are another thing – we had a bunch of those, just like we had last week. So, that impacts their passing game tremendously."