Beck goes the distance, Ravens beat Falcons 20-3
This final exhibition game belonged to those guys fighting for roster spots.
Third-stringer John Beck(notes) threw for 232 yards with a pair of touchdown passes, playing the entire game as the Ravens closed out the preseason with a 20-3 victory over the Falcons on Thursday night.
“He (coach John Harbaugh) told me a few days ago that I would play the whole game,” said Beck, who got an ill-fated chance to start for Miami as a rookie in 2007 and is trying to get his career back on track. “It was very exciting to get to play the whole game.”
Atlanta used its offensive starters for one drive only, then turned it over to John Parker Wilson and D.J. Shockley(notes), the contenders for third quarterback. Ryan completed his first two passes for 18 yards, Michael Turner(notes) carried twice for 12 yards and the Ravens jumped offside twice, putting the Falcons on the Baltimore 34.
From there, Beck directed a 14-play drive that culminated with a 5-yard touchdown pass to fullback Jason Cook. The Ravens took advantage of Atlanta’s suspect defense, especially the cornerbacks. Beck converted a pair of third-down passes against Chris Houston(notes), Brett Grimes was penalized 26 yards for pass interference and Chevis Jackson(notes) was beaten on a 19-yard pass that set up the TD.
Beck clinched the lackluster game with just under 7 minutes to go, tossing a 15-yard touchdown pass to Eron Riley—a play that was set up by Beck’s 47-yard pass to Riley. Both times, Riley beat rookie cornerback Christopher Owens(notes), a third-round pick who also had a rough night in the secondary.
No wonder the Falcons dealt a seventh-round pick to St. Louis earlier in the week for cornerback Tye Hill(notes), a former first-round choice who didn’t pan out for the Rams. He didn’t play in the preseason finale, but could quickly work his way up the Atlanta depth chart once the regular season begins.
“We’ve got to work on everybody getting to the ball,” Houston said. “We’ve got to try to be more aggressive in our techniques. We made some plays tonight, but other than that, we still have a lot to work on as a defense.”
With Ryan’s cameo out of the way, the Falcons turned it over to those battling for the third quarterback-clipboard holder spot.
“You’ve got to understand in these games, you’re going to call things defensively and offensively to put players in certain situations to evaluate them,” Atlanta coach Mike Smith(notes) said. “You’re not game-planning in a game like this. You’re going to put players in certain situations to see how they handle certain techniques and coverages.”
Wilson, an undrafted rookie whose former college team, No. 5 Alabama, will be at the Dome on Saturday night to face seventh-ranked Virginia Tech, played the rest of the first half and part of the third quarter.
He completed 13 of 19 for 80 yards and directed Atlanta’s only scoring drive near the end of the first half, resulting in Jason Elam’s(notes) 45-yard field goal. Wilson got the Falcons into scoring position again on his last possession of the night, but Elam hooked a 35-yard attempt wide left.
Shockley, who hasn’t done much in three years mostly spent as Atlanta’s third QB, hardly improved the chances of hanging with his hometown team for another year. He entered to cheers from fans who still remember him leading Georgia to a Southeastern Conference title in 2005, but completed just 2 of 6 passes for 15 yards with a late interception.
Steve Hauschka rounded out Baltimore’s scoring with field goals of 33 and 46 yards.
Now, it’s time to make final cuts. Atlanta begins at home against Miami on Sept. 13, while Baltimore hosts the Kansas City Chiefs in its opener.
“It will be extremely difficult,” Harbaugh said. “We have more than 53 good players.”