Judging by their first preseason game, not much has changed for the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Falcons. The Ravens still have a suffocating defense,
and the Falcons can't score without Michael Vick at quarterback.
Fred Weary returned an interception 49 yards for a touchdown, and Baltimore spoiled Jim Mora's head coaching debut by cruising to a 24-0 victory in
the rain Thursday night.
"It's extremely tough to win games in this league when you have 11 penalties, you're minus-2 on the turnover ratio, you run the ball for 53 yards,
give up 113 rushing, kill drives the way we did with penalties and keep drives alive the way we did with penalties," Mora said.
Reserve tight end Daniel Wilcox caught two touchdown passes for the Ravens, who built a 14-0 halftime lead and made it stand up by holding Atlanta
without a first down over the final 30 minutes.
Just like last year, the Falcons couldn't generate much offense without Vick. The nimble-footed quarterback left after the first series, and rookie
Matt Schaub went 12-for-24 for 108 yards and two interceptions.
Vick did, however, avoid injury, which made this outing a success compared to the last time he faced the Ravens.
In Atlanta's second preseason game last year, Vick scrambled out of the pocket and broke his right leg when tackled by Baltimore linebacker Adalius
Thomas. The Falcons were 2-9 before Vick returned Nov. 30.
On this night, Vick never got the chance to display his arm or scrambling ability. After handing off twice to Warrick Dunn, Vick dropped back to throw
on third down and was nabbed by safety Will Demps, who received virtually no resistance after blitzing up the middle.
"I was mad, I was upset," Vick said. "They blitzed me knowing I wasn't going to run. They can do what they want in preseason. I'll see them again one
Said Mora: "How many people in Atlanta took a great, deep breath when he was sacked on the third play of the game? I know I did. ... I was happy when
he came to the sideline and said he was OK. I said, 'You're out."
Ravens quarterback Kyle Boller went 5-for-9 for 56 yards and a touchdown before giving way to backup Kordell Stewart in the second quarter. Boller did
not throw an interception, and his quarterback rating of 111.3 more than doubled the 51.8 mark he compiled as a rookie last year.
"I thought we worked well on offense, especially the last drive the first unit played," he said, referring to a 95-yard touchdown drive.
After Vick left, the Falcons had an illegal man downfield on the punt. Baltimore accepted the penalty despite getting the ball on the Atlanta 48, and
the Falcons subsequently recovered a fumble by Lamont Brightful.
Schaub moved the Falcons to the Baltimore 32 before Jay Feely was short on a 51-yard field goal.
The game remained scoreless until Boller capped the 95-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Wilcox with 4:44 left in the half. Boller went
3-for-6 on the 13-play drive, and reserve running back Chester Taylor twice made first downs on third-down carries.
Baltimore went up 14-0 when a pass from Schaub deflected off the hands of Michael Jenkins to Weary, who returned it down the left sideline.
Schaub was also intercepted on the next series.
"They were throws that just got away from me. I've got to be more accurate with my throws," he said.
Wilcox, listed third on the depth chart, caught a 10-yard TD from Stewart in the third quarter. Later in the period, a muffed punt return by Willie
Quinnie led to a field goal by Matt Stover for a 24-0 lead.
The game drew 69,299 fans, the largest crowd ever to watch the Ravens play a preseason game in Baltimore. ^Notes: Boller bruised his elbow, but the
injury was not serious. ... Atlanta was blanked for the only seventh time in 173 preseason games. ... It was the third preseason shutout by the Ravens
and the first against a team other than the Jets. ... Mora challenged two calls, one an apparent TD reception, and was correct both times.