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Ravens Conquered by Vikings


The Ravens were looking for one of their three quarterbacks to separate themselves from the pack in Saturday's preseason home opener.  But, at the end of Baltimore's 23-15 loss to the Minnesota Vikings at M&T Bank Stadium, the picture under center remained as muddy as ever.

Troy Smith was given the best opportunity to shine as the starter, but he only attempted five passes for a limited Ravens offense.  Minnesota held the ball for 17:56 of the first half, eating up four scoring drives along the way. 

Meanwhile, Smith went 3-of-5 for 25 yards, losing an interception on his final pass of the night. 

It was not necessarily the game-changing performance Smith was expecting.   

"There were definitely some situations where we could've done better," Smith said.  "That's what the preseason is all about, where you go out there and keep learning.  You make those mistakes and you iron them out.

"Then, you come out stronger in the regular season."

Consistently chased around the pocket behind a line that featured two reserve tackles, Smith endured three sacks while rushing three times for 35 yards.

"We didn't protect the quarterback the way you have to," said offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.  "Troy did make some plays with his legs.  He has a knack for that."

Instead, the offense was powered by the strong legs of rookie running back Ray Rice.  The second-round draft pick received one of the loudest ovations during team introductions, and he fulfilled expectations of an announced crowd of 70,585 fans by busting loose for a 42-yard run his first carry.

Rice was the bright spot for a unit that had trouble sustaining long series.  Rice's big carry was followed by a 6-yard touchdown run, but that would mark the only offensive addition to the scoreboard. 

"It started off really well, and then it got a little stagnant," said center Jason Brown.  "We have to work on finishing.  We camm out and started running the ball really well, which is important when you're establishing tempo early in the gagme. 

"We have to continue doing those positive things and sustain that momentum."

When Smith gave way to Kyle Boller in the second half, that momentum continued to stall.  Boller, who completed eight of his 12 passes for 40 yards, led two three-and-outs before finally crossing into Minnesota territory one snap into the fourth quarter. 

Even though that drive was capped by a Sam Koch punt, cornerback Derrick Martin quickly represented the defense, picking off Vikings rookie quarterback John David Booty initial pass and taking it to the end zone.

Checking in with 8:01 left in the game, rookie Joe Flacco was hampered by a furious Vikings pass rush, as he was sacked twice in his brief appearance.

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