BALTIMORE — The preseason got off to a feel-good start for quarterback Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens’ offense.
Flacco and almost all of the Ravens’ other offensive starters played only one series in Thursday night’s 23-3 triumph over the San Francisco 49ers at M&T Bank Stadium in the opener of the exhibition season. Their outing was as productive as it was brief. Flacco connected on four of five passes for 52 yards and the Ravens drove to a touchdown.
“It was awesome to get back out there and just lace them up for real finally after a long offseason,” Flacco said. “It was nice.”
There is plenty of scrutiny on Flacco this year. He cashed in on his Super Bowl most valuable player performance to cap the 2012 season by signing a six-year, $120.6 million deal prior to last season. But he didn’t play last season like a quarterback with such a contract is supposed to play, throwing 22 interceptions and only 19 touchdown passes as the Ravens missed the playoffs with a record of 8-8.
The Ravens have done some retooling of the offense around Flacco. Gary Kubiak, fresh off being fired as head coach of the Houston Texans late last season, was hired to replace Jim Caldwell as the Ravens’ offensive coordinator after Caldwell landed the head coaching job in Detroit. Veteran wide receiver Steve Smith was signed after he was released by the Carolina Panthers.
So it was encouraging to those in the organization for things to get off to a positive beginning, even if it was only one drive in the opening preseason game.
“Obviously you never know how it’s going to go,” Flacco said. “But you anticipate and you expect yourself to go out there and have a good drive. You envision good things happening, making plays. You have a good idea what plays you’re going to run. You envision a good outcome. It kind of went on schedule. You’ve got to credit the guys for the work they’ve been putting in, the way they executed tonight.”
Said Ravens Coach John Harbaugh: “It was a good start for the offense. To come back and answer [the opening field goal drive by the 49ers starters] and move the ball and execute like that, it’s a good first drive of the preseason. But, you know what, don’t read too much into it. We’ve got lots of work to do and I’m really excited about the next three days [of joint practices with the 49ers]. I’m really excited about the work we can do together to become a better football team.”
Smith made one catch for nine yards on the opening drive.
“I think it was pretty good,” Smith said in the postgame locker room. “If I drop it, it’s not very good.”
He acknowledged that things felt a little strange to be in a Ravens uniform in a game situation after 13 seasons in Carolina.
“It was different,” Smith said. “You’ve been somewhere and you’re used to doing things for 13 years somewhere else and then now you’re here–just still learning everything, learning the city, going to the hotel, then you don’t know where the meeting rooms were. I’m just trying to figure out everything…. It’s different. But it’s a good different.”