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Game Recap: Ravens 23, Redskins 17


The Ravens look ready for the regular season.

In the final tune-up before the season-opener, the defense dominated. The offense had trouble finding a rhythm early, but got hot late.

All-in-all, it was a successful final showing for the starters in the third preseason game, as Baltimore beat its beltway neighbors, 23-17, Saturday night at M&T Bank Stadium.

Baltimore is now 3-0 this preseason.

"I thought we played a really good, solid football game," Harbaugh said. "Very few mistakes. When you make very few mistakes, you have a good chance to win football games."

The scariest part of the night for the Ravens was an injury to running back Bernard Pierce, who is slated to start the first two weeks of the season due to Ray Rice's suspension. Pierce exited the game early and was evaluated for a possible concussion.

Harbaugh did not have an update immediately following the game.

While the offense has been the story of training camp and the preseason – and justifiably so considering there's a new system in town – the Ravens defense made the biggest impression in the third preseason game.

Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was stifled. He went 5-of-8 for 20 yards passing and zero touchdowns, was sacked three times and picked off once, which ended his night.

The Ravens' starting defense surrendered just 40 yards and four first downs (one via penalty) in a little more than a half of play.

Washington's first-team offense scored once, but only after it took over in Ravens' territory following a failed fourth-down run. The Redskins hit a 19-yard run up the middle on their first play, but scratched out just a field goal.

The Ravens' first-team defense forced three straight three-and-outs at one point. And it all happened without injured top cornerbacks Lardarius Webb (back), Jimmy Smith (chest) and Asa Jackson (ankle).

Baltimore's defensive rookies made some of the unit's biggest plays. Third-round safety Terrence Brooks and second-round defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan each sacked RGIII.

First-round inside linebacker C.J. Mosley made the final statement on the first play of the second half, picking off a pass deflected by fellow linebacker Daryl Smith. Mosley stiff-armed his way down to the 9-yard line, and with that the first-team defense was done.

The Ravens' defense did well despite playing a lot of single-high safety (putting pressure on the depleted cornerback corps) and without blitzing.

"We played good, solid defense in the first half," Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said. "We wanted to see what we could do with just the front four rushing, and we did a nice job with it."

Baltimore's offense started slow for the second straight game, but picked up steam and could have had a bigger night had it not been stopped on fourth-and-1 twice.

While the Ravens played a base defense, the Redskins brought relentless pressure from every angle. Baltimore's offensive line had to adjust, and surrendered its first two sacks of the preseason. Flacco was hit several more timesas he held onto the ball at times because of solid Washington coverage.

The Ravens' running game, which entered the game leading the NFL in average yards per game (194), scuffled.

Despite the pressure, the unit hit occasional big plays and got traction during the two-minute drill on its final drive of the night. Baltimore eventually made Washington pay for its blitzing.

Flacco finished 16-of-23 for 180 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. He was more consistent than in Dallas last week, despite being under a lot of heat.

"We moved the ball well tonight, but I would have liked to have scored some more," said Flacco, who was disappointed with not converting on fourth down.

Flacco hit fullback Kyle Juszczyk for a 23-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage, but the unit later failed to convert on fourth-and-1 near midfield. The Ravens went backwards on their second drive and Flacco was sacked for the first time this preseason, forcing a punt from the end zone.

Baltimore's offense got moving on its third drive, in large part thanks to Steve Smith Sr. Smith moved the chains with a catch on a slant, then broke away from a host of tacklers for a 30-yard gain down the sideline.The Ravens went for it again on fourth-and-1, this time at the Redskins' 11-yard line, and were stuffed again.

More troubling than the fourth-down problems was Pierce suffering an injury on the drive. Pierce was hit high and hard by unblocked safety Brandon Meriweather, who has a laundry list of NFL fines for illegal hits and was later flagged for one when he took a shot at wide receiver Torrey Smith's head.

With Rice taking the night off, rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro and veteran Justin Forsett handled the running duties for the rest of the night.

The starting offense got cranked up to close out the first half. Baltimore's first-team offense got its first points on the board with about 10 minutes remaining in the first half on a 36-yard field goal by kicker Justin Tucker.

In his drive with the two-minute offense,Flacco was 6-of-8 for 74 yards and hit Torrey Smith four times for 41 yards.

Smith Sr. capped it off with a spectacular diving catch for a 24-yard touchdown. He broke away from the cornerback as their feet got tangled and ended up making the catch from his back as he slid out through the back of the end zone.

Smith Sr. had caught just one reception in each of the first two preseason games. In the closest thing to a regular-season action, he hauled in six passes for 80 yards and a score.

"Last week, I didn't do too well," Smith Sr. said. "Was thinking a lot, overthinking, so I just came out here and just kind of relaxed and did my job. … That kind of just shows that I can still play and what kind of play that I'm going to have."

The Ravens' backups, who will be featured in Thursday's preseason finale in New Orleans, finished off the win.

Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor had one of his better games, going 6-for-9 for 65 yards, including a perfectly-thrown 21-yard touchdown fade to Deonte Thompson, who has now scored touchdowns in back-to-back games. Taylor also ran five times for 35 yards.

Most of the Ravens' starters will presumably sit next Saturday in New Orleans. The regular season is just 15 days away.

"I'm excited, man," outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil said. "It was a great rehearsal today. I think we did a lot of good things, some things we need to clean up and get better at, but overall, I think we're headed in the right direction.

"We're ready to roll for sure."

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