Observation deck: Falcons-Ravens

For the first time in more than a year, the Atlanta Falcons have a real running game.

That became obvious in Thursday night’s 27-23 loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Running back Steven Jackson looked like he might provide more than a little upgrade over Michael Turner. Jackson carried eight times for 42 yards while playing less than a half.

The most telling drive of the night featured a couple of nice runs by Jackson and two nice passes from Matt Ryan to Julio Jones, including one for a touchdown.

The Falcons still are going to be a pass-first team, but one of their goals this offseason was to improve the running game. That’s why the Falcons let Turner go and brought in Jackson. He doesn’t have to get 25 carries a game, but Jackson at least gives the Falcons the threat of a running game and that means some balance for the offense -- and less time on the field for the defense.

Some other quick observation on the Falcons:

  • Don't be fooled by the final score. The Falcons dominated the game while the starters were in. Atlanta led 20-7 at halftime, which is all that really matters in a preseason game.

  • Atlanta’s first-team defense played very well, except for one play. The Ravens finished the first half with 131 yards of total offense, but 77 of those yards came on a touchdown pass from Joe Flacco to Torrey Smith, who got past cornerback Asante Samuel. But Samuel made up for that by coming up with an interception later in the first half.

  • Defensive end Osi Umenyiora got off to a fast start, pressuring Flacco twice on Baltimore’s first offensive drive, which was a three and out.

  • Wide receiver Roddy White left the game with an apparent foot injury early in the game and did not return. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury.

  • The offensive line was far from perfect and Lamar Holmes still needs plenty of coaching at right tackle. But the line did a very nice job protecting Ryan for a long time as he found Jones on the touchdown pass.

  • After a rocky performance in the preseason opener last week, backup quarterback Dominique Davis had an outstanding performance in relief of Ryan. Davis completed eight of 10 passes for 98 yards. That showing might be enough to convince the Falcons they don’t need to search for a veteran backup.

  • Cornerback Dominique Franks, who is competing for a roster spot, might have helped his chances with an interception late in the third quarter.