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Joe Flacco Encourages Keith Wenning After Tough Start


Rookie quarterback Keith Wenning was sacked and fumbled the first time he dropped back to pass in an NFL game. The second time he backpedaled, he was sacked again.

In his first real action Saturday in Dallas, Wenning finished 2-for-4 for 23 yards with two sacks and one lost fumble.

The sixth-round pick out of Ball State later engineered a clock-killing final drive to preserve the Ravens' 37-30 victory in their second preseason game, but the debut probably wasn't what Wenning imagined.

After the game, Wenning got some encouraging words from a teammate who had a similar opening experience: starter Joe Flacco.

"When he came back [after the fumble] I said, 'Listen man, this is what happens. It happens to everybody,'" Flacco said. "It's just a matter of how you react to it."

On the sideline, Flacco told the rookie the story of his NFL debut, which went even worse.

On Aug. 7, 2008 in New England, Flacco got two drives at the end of the Ravens' first preseason game. The former first-round pick finished 0-for-3, was sacked twice and fumbled once.

At that point, viewers wouldn't have imagined Flacco as the Week 1 starter or leading the Ravens to the AFC championship game later that year.

But the memory is seared into Flacco's brain.

"I said listen, 'My first game I got in with two and half minutes left,'" Flacco recalled. "'We were backed up inside the 10-yard line. I think we were up by seven points. I got hit five different ways, I fumbled. They picked it up. They scored a play later. Thank God they went for two and didn't get it and we won the game anyway.'"

Wenning's third and final drive went a lot better than the previous two. Leading by four points, the Ravens took over possession with four minutes, 28 seconds remaining.

After a couple runs by Lorenzo Taliaferro, Wenning hit undrafted rookie wide receiver Jeremy Butler on a slant to convert on third-and-7 and keep the clock running. Two plays later, he hit fullback Shaun Chapas for a 13-yard gain on a play-action roll out.

Following three more runs, the Ravens were in kicker Justin Tucker's field-goal range. Tucker booted a 49-yarder through the uprights and the Cowboys only had enough time for one more play.

"I think he finished the game well," Flacco said. "He completed both passes in the four minutes and kept the chains moving. … It's football. It's not really any different than any other football. But when it's your first time taking the field in an NFL game, it's a big deal. I think he handled it well."

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