The Washington Commanders have put an end to the Baltimore Ravens‘ 24-game preseason winning streak, securing a 29-28 triumph at FedExField. Here are five key insights from the Commanders’ second preseason victory, brought to you by Maryland Lottery.
Howell Impresses with Strong First-Half Display
In what likely marked Sam Howell’s final preseason appearance, the second-year quarterback showcased precisely why Ron Rivera’s decision to name him the starting quarterback was justified.
Howell epitomized poise as he guided the Commanders’ offense through a variety of scenarios. His opening drive performance was exemplary, completing five of his first six passes and driving the team to the Ravens’ 3-yard line for a successful field goal attempt. Howell’s decision-making prowess was evident, opting for smart plays over riskier ones, and his accurate passes even in tight situations kept the chains moving.
Notably, Howell’s resilience stood out as he prevented minor errors from snowballing into significant setbacks. A standout moment was his swift response to the Ravens’ 14-10 lead, orchestrating an 11-yard touchdown pass to Dyami Brown, securing a Commanders lead right before halftime.
Howell’s final stat line included 19 completions on 25 attempts for 188 yards, yielding an impressive passer rating of 123.4. If this was indeed his last preseason appearance, the team can be confident in their quarterback choice.
Defense Overcomes Sluggish Start
The Commanders’ defense struggled to find its rhythm initially, highlighting a recurring issue of slow starts.
Although addressing this concern was a priority for the 2023 season, the recent game demonstrated that further improvement is needed.
The Ravens’ opening drive exploited defensive weaknesses, with missed tackles and poor pursuit angles allowing Baltimore to advance down the field effortlessly.
However, the defense regained its footing, forcing a three-and-out on the subsequent drive and later producing punts on three of the Ravens’ second-half possessions.
Notably, the majority of Washington’s starting defense did not participate in this game, implying that the coverage lapses were not reflective of the entire unit. Nevertheless, there remains room for growth in the defensive depth.
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Quan Martin Rebounds from Cleveland Setback
Quan Martin’s redemption story unfolded after his earlier struggles in the Cleveland preseason game. Despite making errors in that contest, Martin displayed flashes of his potential against Baltimore.
A pivotal play occurred when Ravens receiver James Proche gained separation from Martin, seemingly set to catch a touchdown pass.
However, Martin’s persistence paid off, as he intercepted the pass and cleverly advanced the ball, covering 59 yards before being tackled.
This performance underlines the importance of not hastily judging rookies based on a single preseason game.
Martin’s continued development, along with the Commanders’ fine-tuning of his role, could lead to more standout moments like this interception.
Mental Errors Impact Both Sides
Although the Ravens showcased moments of brilliance, the Commanders’ victory was marred by self-inflicted mistakes.
Despite committing fewer penalties than Baltimore, Washington’s errors had a more significant impact on their performance.
Penalties such as Rachad Wildgoose’s defensive pass interference and Isaiah Mack’s neutral zone infraction allowed the Ravens to capitalize on scoring opportunities.
On the offensive side, miscues, including a holding penalty on Saahdiq Charles, hindered drives and impeded momentum.
While the Commanders secured the win, addressing these issues is imperative before the season opener.
Fromm’s Clutch Drive Seals the Victory
Amid the excitement of ending the Ravens’ preseason winning streak, Jake Fromm led a game-winning drive that sealed the Commanders’ triumph.
Although not without challenges, including a fumble and benefiting from a pass interference call, Fromm displayed poise under pressure.
His crucial throws, particularly an eight-yard pass to Kazmeir Allen, positioned the team for a game-winning field goal.
Joey Slye’s successful 49-yard kick culminated in a 14-play, 60-yard drive. While preseason victories hold little weight, this moment solidified team camaraderie and showcased the Commanders’ potential for the upcoming season.