Flacco and Suggs re­turn in third pre­sea­son win

Cecil Whig - - SPORTS - sgro­gan@ce­cil­whig.com By SEAN GRO­GAN Fol­low Sean Gro­gan on Twit­ter: @Sean_Ce­cilWhig

BAL­TI­MORE — When the of­fen­sive starters were in­tro­duced Satur­day night, Joe Flacco’s name was once again the last one called.

The Bal­ti­more Ravens’ quar­ter­back took the M&T Bank Sta­dium field for his first game ac­tion since tear­ing his ACL and MCL 278 days ear­lier.

The Ravens got the leader of their de­fense back, too. Ter­rell Suggs made his pre­sea­son de­but af­ter miss­ing nearly all of last sea­son with a torn Achilles ten­don suf­fered in Week 1.

With its two most im­por­tant play­ers back, Bal­ti­more dom­i­nated the vis­it­ing Detroit Li­ons 30-9 in the team’s third pre­sea­son game. Flacco and Suggs each played the first quar­ter be­fore call­ing it a night. Nei­ther showed any signs of rust.

“It was good to get back out in the hud­dle and go through it all again. It was a lot of fun,” Flacco said. “There was prob­a­bly a lit­tle bit of ‘ Man, I haven’t been out here for a while,’ but it was just ex­cite­ment. It was fun to get back out there and feel a part of the team again.”

Flacco com­pleted 11-16 passes for 94 yards, in­clud­ing three to newly ac­quired wide re­ceiver Mike Wal­lace for 37 yards. He was sacked by for­mer Raven Haloti Ngata, leav­ing the fans in attendance hold­ing their col­lec­tive breaths, but popped right up.

“I didn’t really get hit there,” he said. “I was mov­ing around and I just dove into a hole be­cause the play was over that that point. So I didn’t really get touched to­day, the way I view it.”

Flacco led Bal­ti­more on a 10play, 53-yard drive that ended with a 40-yard Justin Tucker field goal on his first se­ries back.

“I thought he looked good. I felt good about how Joe looked. He op­er­ated,” head coach John Har­baugh said. “We just have to con­tinue to get our pass­ing game oiled up.”

Suggs made his im­pact felt im­me­di­ately, as he stuffed Li­ons run­ning back Ameer Ab­dul­lah for a one-yard gain on Detroit’s first rush­ing play of the night.

“I was really happy. I needed to feel a hit, I needed to get hit,” he said. “I needed to get ac­tion at me, so it felt really good that they came right at me the first cou­ple of plays.”

Un­like Flacco, who has prac­ticed ev­ery day since the start of train­ing camp and an­nounced ear­lier in the week that he would play against the Li­ons, Suggs was a bit of sur­prise when he took the field in uni­form. He prac­ticed for the first time just 12 days ear­lier.

“I didn’t want the first time I saw some real ac­tion to be on open­ing day,” he said. “I def­i­nitely wanted to get back in there and get back ac­cus­tomed to the speed of the game, and my keys and see­ing and re­act­ing to what I’m used to re­act­ing to. It was def­i­nitely a ne­ces­sity for me to get out there.”

The re­turn of Flacco and Suggs was marred by a pair of key in­juries for the Ravens. Vet­eran tight end Ben­jamin Wat­son went down on the first play from scrim­mage with what was an­nounced as a torn Achilles ten­don. Rookie run­ning back Kenneth Dixon, who re­ceived six of Bal­ti­more’s 12 first half rush­ing at­tempts, went down with a sprained knee on a goal-line carry late in the sec­ond quar­ter. Har­baugh said Dixon will re­ceive an MRI Sunday, but that it did not look overly se­ri­ous.

The Li­ons played start­ing quar­ter­back Matt Stafford the en­tire first half. The Ravens held him to 14-23 pass­ing for 95 yards. He was sacked twice and in­ter­cepted by An­thony Levine, who played safety with starter Lar­dar­ius Webb not in uni­form. It was Levine’s sec­ond-straight game with a pick.

“I loved the sacks. I loved an­other in­ter­cep­tion by Levine at the end of the half, which was big for us,” Har­baugh said. “I thought our guys all played good, tough cov­er­age. Noth­ing got behind us, even when they com­pleted the cross­ing routes and the flat routes, we were right there to make good tack­les. Our guys played with a cer­tain tenac­ity.”

Backup quar­ter­back Ryan Mal­lett played for the sec­ond and third quar­ters for the Ravens. He com­pleted 10-15 at­tempts, in­clud­ing a 25-yard touch­down pass to Jeremy But­ler with 2:48 left in the first half. Mal­lett also rushed for a touch­down, punch­ing it in from one yard out with 1:21 left in the open­ing half.

Third string-quar­ter­back John John­son played the fourth quar­ter. He com­pleted 4-6 passes for 29 yards and also added a one­yard rush­ing score.

Tucker con­nected both of field goal tries and backup kicker Will Lutz hit his one at­tempt.

Run­ning back Ter­rence West con­tin­ued his im­pres­sive pre­sea­son, gain­ing 43 yards on seven car­ries.

The Ravens have won all three of their ex­hi­bi­tions, and will wrap up the pre­sea­son Thurs­day in New Or­leans.

“We’re 3-0. I know it’s pre­sea­son, but it’s al­ways good to win,” West said. “You can go 0-4 in the pre­sea­son and that can roll over into the sea­son, so we’re on the right track right now.”

Li­ons head coach Jim Cald­well was Bal­ti­more’s of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor for the 2012 Su­per Bowl sea­son. Ngata, wide re­ceiver An­quan Boldin and line­backer Josh Bynes all played on that Ravens squad but were suited up for Detroit on Satur­day. With 7:38 re­main­ing in the game, Ngata and Boldin were shown on the video board to a roar from the re­main­ing M&T Bank Sta­dium crowd.

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