OK, NOW we can all stand up and say amen. The preseason is over and we can get on with the games that count. Bring on the Pittsburgh Steelers. Bring on the Cleveland Browns.
You have to give Ravens fans credit. That was a nice turnout last night at M&T Bank Stadium for a weeknight game, and before a holiday. At least they showed up. The New York Giants' first-string offense and defense didn't for most of the first half, and neither did the Ravens' special teams.
The Giants were lifeless for most of the first half, and this basically was a rerun of the Ravens' game last week against the Washington Redskins, except the Giants were the Ravens.
But that's the problem with preseason games. It's all a matter of which team shows up. The Giants were without five offensive and two defensive starters. An Earth, Wind and Fire or Doobie Brothers concert would have been more entertaining after halftime than the game last night.
But at least league owners are laughing all the way to the bank.
"I think everybody can breathe a collective sigh that they got through it and they can focus on the regular season," said coach Brian Billick, whose team lost, 30-24, to the Giants.
What did the Ravens learn from the game?
Very little. Nothing they didn't know after Game 2 of the preseason. They just gained some momentum heading into the regular season.
Two things are certain. The special teams have gotten progressively worse and Billick surely will have a few words with special teams coach Gary Zauner this morning.
Granted, some of the mistakes were made by players who won't be on the regular-season roster, but return specialist Lamont Brightful will, and so will running back Chester Taylor.
The Ravens fumbled one punt, which they also had partially blocked. They fumbled one kickoff. Another punt bounced off Airabin Justin's foot, and the Giants recovered. Those three turnovers led to 13 New York points and a 20-17 Giants lead at halftime.
The special teams problems have now overshadowed the team's quarterback controversy. Chris Redman, a one-time starter, looked like a lost soul last night. The Ravens have taken away his confidence, and he looked nothing like the player who started six games last year.
But regardless of the special teams problems, the Ravens come away from last night's game with a much-needed shot in the arm heading into the opener on Sept. 7 against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.
There has been a lot of talk about the battle between Kyle Boller and Redman for the starting quarterback position, but it was irrelevant last night because the Ravens ran the ball.
That's the key for this season. Running back Jamal Lewis has to have a big year to complement a defense that should control field position in most games. Lewis had 38 yards on six carries in just about a quarter of playing time.
His most impressive run may have been a 7-yard gain with 5:51 left in the first quarter when he ran off left guard, through the attempted tackles of defensive tackle Keith Hamilton and safety Shaun Williams, and then carried linebacker Mike Barrow 2 more yards on his back.
Running the ball consistently is what the Ravens haven't been able to do in the preseason. The yards may have come against the Giants, who were giving up 115 yards rushing a game before last night, but the Ravens have something to build on.
"It felt great," Lewis said. "We got warmed up and had the running game working. We have a good base for the start of the season. We got the passing game working, too, so I think we're ready. Kyle put on a good show and we're going to put it all together."
Said Billick: "I think we can be a good running team. I don't think what we did last week was indicative of what we had shown the previous two games, and obviously this game."
Boller completed seven of nine passes for 99 yards in the first half, including a 49-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Travis Taylor on the Ravens' opening possession. He outperformed Redman, who played in the second quarter and a little in the third with the second team and completed only one of six passes for 11 yards.
But any comparison would be unfair. The competition was about as fixed as a pro wrestling match. The quarterback controversy is over. Redman's head is probably in another universe now. Neither Redman nor No. 3 quarterback Anthony Wright had time to throw, which shows the lack of depth the Ravens have offensively, especially on the line.
Wright completed seven of 14 passes for 79 yards and one touchdown, but most of his yards came after scrambling around and throwing on the run.
Redman said: "I'm a little disappointed, obviously - things that I usually don't do: fumble a snap and miss a throw. I knew I was getting in in the second quarter, so I was waiting there forever, trying to get the opportunity to get in there and it was one thing after another. I'm just going to sit back and wait and see what happens. I'll try to contribute to the team in any way I can."