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The Ravens were hoping to showcase their new offensive firepower in Saturday night's matchup with the Washington Redskins, but their second preseason game left much to be desired.
Although the Ravens won 23-3, the first-team offense suffered through three fumbles in the opening two quarters and needed a 51-yard run from safety Haruki Nakamura on a fake punt to set up their only touchdown.
In nearly a half of work against 2009's 10th-ranked defense, quarterback Joe Flacco completed 9 of 16 passes for only 72 yards, while Ray Rice continued to see a limited amount of carries with only three rushes for 17 yards.
And, the Ravens did not convert any of their five third-down tries in the entire first half.
It was not a great way to continue what was a promising showing last week against the Carolina Panthers.
"I think the Redskins did a pretty good job against us in the first half," said Flacco. "We just need to move the ball a little better and convert those thirds downs. We have to keep those chains moving, and we can't make those mistakes.
"We can't fumble the ball that many times. We need to eliminate those turnovers and take better care of the ball.
The Ravens opening series saw Flacco fumble an exchange to Rice, and the following play was a pass to Derrick Mason that resulted in an 8-yard loss.
Their next possession saw Rice drop the ball at the Ravens' 43-yard line. Anquan Boldin recovered, but the momentum was gone.
Later, the Ravens seemed to have a spark when Cary Williams notched his second interception of the preseason, but Donte' Stallworth fumbled shortly thereafter, this time turning the ball over to the other side.
"We didn't get the Redskins off the field on third downs in the first quarter," said Head Coach John Harbaugh. "We have to get better, and we did improve in the second quarter.
"Also, give some credit to Donovan [McNabb]. He has seen it all, and he did a really good job of buying extra time."
While McNabb did complete 11 of 26 passes for 206 yards, the Ravens seemed to figure out the starting quarterback as the first half wore on.
On their first drive, Washington marched 73 yards in 13 plays – highlighted by a 45-yard bomb from McNabb to wideout Anthony Anderson – to spark the scoreboard with a 25-yard field goal by Graham Gano.
After that kick, the Redskins' first team never made it past midfield.
Just before Williams' interception, McNabb found Santana Moss for a 23-yard gain. McNabb notched a first down when he found Moss again for a 17-yard completion, but that drive was derailed by two consecutive incompletions.
And the Redskins could not run the ball at all. Featuring starter Clinton Portis and former Pro Bowler Larry Johnson, Washington rushed for only 18 yards on 10 attempts in the first half.
"Obviously, we have to do a better job of getting off the field on third down," said Defensive Coordinator Greg Mattison, whose defense forced Washington to a 38 percent success rate on third down in the first half. "Donovan did a great job of avoiding the sacks and making plays downfield."
The Ravens did use the field-position battle to their advantage, however.
Midway through the second quarter, facing fourth down on their own 48-yard line, Special Teams Coordinator Jerry Rosburg called a fake punt that saw Nakamura take the direct snap and juke his way to the 1-yard line, eluding several tacklers.
Willis McGahee did the rest by barreling over the left side of the line for a touchdown.
"A guy jumped in the hole, and Haruki made him miss," Rosburg said. "That was the key. The Redskins had it blocked pretty well, and Haruki did a very good job moving the ball to the 1 [-yard line]."
Despite the first-team offensive misfires, the Ravens got a great look at their depth.
Led by quarterback Marc Bulger, the Ravens' second unit knifed through the Redskins' defense – which still had multiple starters on the field – once it got comfortable.
Baltimore opened the second half with a three-and-out, but their second series saw Bulger lead a 14-play, 94-yard scoring drive that cumulated in a 3-yard touchdown run by Jalen Parmele.
On the drive, Bulger, a two-time Pro Bowler, went 8-of-8 for 78 yards, finding rookie David Reed for a 22-yard gain on one pass.
"We really like what out 'twos' [second units] did late in the first half," Harbaugh noted. "On defense, we stopped their last drive. On offense, we got the field goal after a good last drive."
Now that the Ravens have officially left training camp, they will return to team headquarters in Owings Mills, Md., this week to prepare for a home preseason contest against the New York Giants (Saturday, Aug. 28).