The streak. It started as a string of wins in 2016. Then, a second preseason without defeat. And then a third, fourth, fifth and sixth.
With a national audience watching Monday Night Football, the masses tuned in to see if the Ravens' 24-game streak would live on, meanwhile debating its significance.
A streak that "didn't matter" in the eyes of some pundits and fans sure seemed to matter when the Ravens held a two-point lead over the Washington Commanders. So too did the final score, when the Commanders won after a Joey Slye 49-yard field goal, 29-28.
For all the talk about it not mattering, pundits tuned into a Ravens preseason game with the same vigor of a playoff game. ESPN’s Troy Aikman called it "the greatest preseason game I've ever been a part of."
"The Streak surely meant something, if only that the Baltimore Ravens fight like hell to win every time they're on the field," The Baltimore Banner's Kyle Goon wrote. "That's one thing you can take from the preseason — even if you can't take the wins themselves."
Twitter did, too.
Commanders offensive lineman Sam Cosmi said before the game that it was a "stupid record." Meanwhile, he cared enough about ending it to do the Griddy after a Commanders second-quarter touchdown and the Commanders had a big celebration after winning.
Zay Flowers 'Certifies the Hype' in One Drive
Rookie wide receiver Zay Flowers wasn't on the field for long in Monday's exhibition, playing only the first series for the Ravens' offense. But in that time, he dazzled pundits.
NFL.com’s Grant Gordon: "If you blinked, you might've missed Zay Flowers on Monday. Sure, he only saw six snaps, but it's what he did with the ball in his hands that was truly a blur. Certifying the hype, Flowers was quick as a hiccup and fast as a flash on a pair of first-and-only-drive receptions. … The No. 22 pick of the 2023 NFL Draft has had people salivating at the possibilities of what he can bring to a Lamar Jackson-led offense. A healthy Rashod Bateman and Odell Beckham Jr. are certainly reasons for hopefulness, but if you get Flowers in space, he's going to be making some big plays for Baltimore and igniting a Ravens WR corps that's long been stagnant."
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec: "The Ravens' rookie first-round wide receiver ended his night early. After one drive, Baltimore had seen enough. The Commanders' defense probably had, as well."
PFF.com: "Ravens wide receiver Zay Flowers dominated the opening drive, catching two passes for 37 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Twenty-eight of his yards came after the catch, and he forced two missed tackles along the way."
Press Box’s Bo Smolka: "Flowers is most dangerous because he has shown superb ability to get open in the short and intermediate areas where Lamar Jackson throws best. [Offensive Coordinator Todd] Monken is going to have a lot of fun devising ways to get the ball to Flowers and then watching his shiftiness take over."
Players Who Impressed in Preseason Week 2
The battle to make the Ravens' 53-man roster continued Monday as the backups competed until the final whistle. Media members named some of the players they thought improved their case to earn a spot on the Baltimore roster.
WR Tylan Wallace
The Baltimore Sun’s Brian Wacker: "With the first five receiver spots unofficially accounted for by Odell Beckham Jr., Rashod Bateman, Flowers, Nelson Agholor and Devin Duvernay, Wallace continued to assert himself to be the sixth."
Zrebiec: "It's nearly impossible to get six wide receivers involved on game days. For a sixth receiver to be active, he's almost certainly going to have to be a core special-teamer. That's why Wallace has been the front-runner. But he's also seemingly gained some separation from his competitors by making plays as a receiver."
Smolka: "…Tylan Wallace has taken a decisive step to the front of that next group. … To be sure, when all the receivers are healthy, the No. 6 wide receiver will be primarily relegated to a special teams role, but that's one that Wallace has embraced and excelled at during his two-year career. Although his chances on offense have been limited so far in his career, with just six catches in 26 games, this summer he has showed that he can be a factor as a receiver as well."
RB Justice Hill
Wacker: "The Ravens have thrown to their running backs during training camp more than in previous years and it didn't take long for that to manifest itself Monday night. Hill caught a dump-off in the open and turned it into a 13-yard gain on Baltimore's opening possession. He also flashed good burst, busting through the line for a 10-yard run on the first play from scrimmage before adding a 15-yard run to the outside. His night was over after the opening drive, but that was more than enough. Hill finished with two carries for 25 yards and one catch for 13 yards."
DB Ar'Darius Washington
Smolka: "[Washington] was active all night against the Commanders, making open-field tackles and breaking up a pass in the end zone late in the second quarter. Washington led the Ravens in both tackles (7) and passes defensed (3). … Viewed as both a nickel cornerback and safety, Washington would probably be the team's starting nickel cornerback if the season started today."
The Baltimore Banner's Jonas Shaffer: "According to [Next Gen Stats], Washington was targeted seven times and allowed five catches, but for just 32 yards. He also had a downfield pass defense late in the fourth quarter as an injury replacement that Harbaugh called 'one of the best plays you're ever going to see.' Washington entered camp on the bubble, but the former undrafted free agent has probably sealed a spot on the 53-man roster, if not a starting job."
Russell Street Report’s Darin McCann: "Ar'Darius Washington was an active guy, with seven tackles and three passes defensed. He made several open-field tackles that stood out, and had very tight coverage on a pass downfield late that fell incomplete."
RB Keaton Mitchell
CB Kevon Seymour
- M&T Bank Stadium ranked No. 11 in The Athletic's NFL stadium rankings. "This outdoor venue that has been home to the Ravens since 1998 climbed five spots since our last ranking, landing in the top five on three ballots," John Machota wrote.