The Ravens didn't dive deep into the offensive playbook in their 23-0 win over the Washington Redskins.
With all the playmakers they have on that side of the ball, they didn't need to.
With a defense that allowed only one Redskins drive to last over 22 yards – a 58-yard march that ended in a lost fumble – Baltimore began their 2009 campaign on a very high note.
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said that he simply wanted to see execution in the preseason opener. Flacco started that trend from the outset, leading the Ravens to field goals on his only two drives.
He played one quarter and finished 9-of-15 for 103 yards, quieting some concerns of fans and pundits regarding Flacco's interception tally in training camp.
"I thought Joe was sharp," said head coach John Harbaugh. "He was crisp. Got the ball out quick and seeing him check it down to the backs so it's a completion or it's a check-down type of a mindset was pretty good."
Three of those completions went to running back Ray Rice.
Rice was the impetus behind Baltimore's first field goal. One second-and-8 at the Ravens' 49-yard line, Rice was the check-down option for Flacco, who found him with a short pass over the middle.
The diminutive runner scampered 34 yards through the Redskins' secondary before being tackled at the Washington 17, setting up a 21-yard field goal by Steve Hauschka.
Rice's play was indicative of how running backs can excel in Cameron's passing attack.
"As running backs, we have to be able to do it all," Rice explained. "Especially in this league. We're very confident that we can move the ball, whether that's running or catching the ball."
Flacco then led a 14-play, 71-yard march to another field goal – this one from 37 yards – from Hauschka.
The second-year signal caller found Kelley Washington, a free-agent addition this offeason, for connections of 16 and 15 yards, and then running back Willis McGahee bulled his way to a 16-yard gain to the Washington 21-yard line.
The Ravens would have been within striking distance, but Marcus Smith dropped a pass inside the 10, and Hauschka made the score 6-0 Baltimore.
Troy Smith* *was impressive, as well. Taking over in the second quarter and playing well into the third, Smith completed 14 of 30 passes for 200 yards despite dealing with several drops.
Justin Harper was one of those wideouts with the unsure hands, even though he was the recipient of a 19-yard touchdown toss from Smith.
Smith had four incompletions intended for Harper before the Virginia Tech product slipped past a Washington cornerback and made an easy catch in the back of the end zone.
"I started off with some drops, but they gave me a chance, they came back to me," Harper said after the game. "I'm still a little inconsistent, but we're still in training camp. I've got to keep making plays."
Harper's touchdown was the result of a tight two-minute drill prompted by a fumble recovery by defensive tackle Dwan Edwards. Redskins tight end Fred Davis caught a pass at Baltimore's 29-yard line, and safety Tom Zbikowski punched the ball free.
Edwards pounced on it to give Smith 1:12 with which to work.
Said Harbaugh: "That's the way to finish a half - get the turnover and then a touchdown. That last drive is a pressure situation, and we practice it all the time."
Even Beck pitched in a touchdown drive, but he had some major help from receiver Jayson Foster.
Foster took a short pass 64 yards to the Redskins' 7, which gave rookie Cedric Peerman the opportunity to rush up the middle for a touchdown three snaps later. The ordained minister high-stepped after his first NFL score before dropping to one knee and praising God.
"Sometimes you get caught up in yourself a little bit," the sixth-round draft pick said with a smile. "That's just that human fault we have, but I always point the glory back to God for anything that happens."
The Redskins were not doing any pointing, as Baltimore's defense was stifling all game.
The Redskins' starting quarterback, Jason Campbell, could only muster drives of 22 and 18 yards before he was pulled out of the game.
Todd Collins, Campbell's backup, never passed midfield.
"It feels good," Zbikowski said of the shutout. "It shows you what kind of depth we have on both sides of the ball, the kind of team that we have. We just played hard, kept it pretty basic, fooled around and had fun."
The only downers came from a glut of penalties – the Ravens were flagged nine times – a stinger injury to safety Haruki Nakamura, Marcus Smith's knee injury, that had him on crutches in the post-game locker room and an undisclosed injury for Beck.
Harbaugh was also disappointed in a high snap that resulted in a missed field goal that Graham Gano bounced off the upright as time expired.
Mattison, however, thought it was a true team effort.
"I don't know how he's going to do it, but he said he's going to divide it up for every single one of the 80 guys on this team," Harbaugh stated. "All the players on defense, the offensive guys and all the special teams guys."
The Ravens have off on Friday before return to the practice field Saturday morning. And as complete of a win as this was, the Ravens know the work is not over.
"It was a good start," said Harbaugh. "But we have a whole lot of work to do. Our guys realize that."