Exhibition Football Returns With A “Flourish”
Preseason football, like all exhibition sports is tough to watch when you get past the excitement of having the pads popping again. Thursday night featured a half dozen games that nobody cares about, save for players trying to make a team or coaches trying to evaluate players.
The Baltimore Ravens opened defense of their NFL title by playing a team whose defense looks wretched despite their off season acquisitions. The Tampa Bay Bucs were last in the NFL in pass defense. Their top get was Darrelle Revis. He didn't suit up as the Ravens smashed Tampa 44-16. Head coach John Harbaugh seemed to enjoy the drubbing, adding a 57 yard field goal with just under two minutes left for the final score.
Baltimore, with a slew of new players on defense, forced four turnovers of the error prone Bucs. Joe Flacco was solid hitting seven of nine passes.
The Cincinnati Bengals hope to capitalize on the rebuilding Ravens and the slippage of the Pittsburgh Steelers. They opened the preseason by destroying the Falcons, in Atlanta 34-10. Josh Johnson, the former East Carolina Pirate galloped for 64 yards, and led Cincy to 17 points in the second quarter. The Bengal defense was stout, even against pathetic quarterbacks Sean Renfree and Dominique Davis.
The Cleveland Browns, beset with off season problems, including the financial issues with their owner Jimmy Haslam, got a strong performance from Brandon Weeden, in taking down the St Louis Rams 27-19, The second year slinger from Oklahoma State was 10 of 13 in the air and led his Browns to a pair of scores, a touchdown and a field goal. The Rams turned the ball over three times. The Browns were flawless with the ball.
Perhaps the most "exciting" game took place in Tennessee, where the Washington Redskins rallied late and beat the home town Titans 22-21. The Skins played without RG3, but Kirk Cousins showed again why the Redskins took him right after Griffin in last year's draft. The "Cuz" was six of seven in the air in his brief playing time.
Washington won the game when Pat White, the kid from West Virginia who was splattered last we saw by the Pittsburgh Steelers, when he played for the Miami Dolphins, ran in a touchdown from 9 yards out with 2:23 left. The Redskins went for 2 wanting to avoid overtime in the preseason and they converted that to win the ballgame. Don't expect to see RG3 in the preseason according to Washington coach Mike Shannahan. Chris Johnson did rumble 58 yards for a touchdown in the 1st quarter.
On the left coast a pair of ballgames involving powers from the NFC West.
First off in San Diego, the Seattle Seahawks, besieged with off season issues involving players using performance enhancing drugs, drubbed the Chargers 31-10. The Hawks outscored the Bolts 24-7 in the second half.
The dynamic Russell Wilson didn't lead his club to any points and he didn't have to. Backups Tavaris Jackson and Brady Quinn did the damage for him. Meanwhile the Chargers backup, former Seahawk Charlie Whitehurst, was sacked three times and turned the ball over a pair of times.
Then perhaps the most intriguing match up of the night and possible Super Bowl preview between the San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos. There was one word to describe this game: SNOOZEFEST! Denver wins on the road 10-6. The only touchdown came on defense, as Denver's Shaun Phillips returned a fumble nine yards for a score in the second quarter. Each starting QB, Peyton Manning of Denver and Colin Kaepernick of San Francisco played just one series apiece.
Tonight, there are eight more meaningless exhibition games, so enjoy!