NFL

Flacco outduels Griffin III as Ravens beat Redskins

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The Canadian Press
8/23/2014 10:52:05 PM
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BALTIMORE -- Enough of this preseason stuff. Joe Flacco can't wait to see what the new-look Baltimore Ravens' offence does when it counts.

Flacco's final pass of the game was a touchdown to Steve Smith near the end of the first half, and the Ravens beat the Washington Redskins 23-17 Saturday night for their third straight win.

Flacco outdid Robert Griffin III, who concluded his horrid performance -- and preseason -- with an interception.

If this was a dress rehearsal for the regular season, the Ravens had reason to be encouraged. Flacco went 16 for 23 for 180 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown throw to Smith with 25 seconds left in the second quarter.

Operating in first-year offensive co-ordinator Gary Kubiak's up-tempo attack, Flacco is 29 for 45 for 345 yards and no interceptions in three exhibition games. At this point, he's prepared to skip next week's preseason finale and move ahead to the regular-season opener against Cincinnati.

"This is my seventh year. I'm ready," Flacco said. "Everybody is ready for real live games. Get out there and go."

Although the Ravens (3-0) twice failed on fourth-and-1 runs and gained only 37 yards on the ground in the first half, they performed the two-minute drill to near perfection.

Flacco went 6 for 8 for 74 yards during the 74-yard drive. Torrey Smith had four catches for 41 yards on the march and Steve Smith made a sensational sliding catch in the end zone after beating Washington's E.J. Biggers.

Signed a free agent during the off-season, Steve Smith finished with six catches for 80 yards. He was asked if the offence is ready for the regular season.

"Whether we are or we aren't, it's coming," Smith replied. "We had no choice but to be prepared and ready to make plays."

The Redskins, and Griffin in particular, look like they could use another month to get ready for the opener at Houston on Sept. 7.

Griffin went 5 for 7 for 20 yards in the first half and was sacked three times. He returned in the third quarter and threw just one pass, an interception by rookie C.J. Mosley deep in Washington territory.

Griffin also dropped a snap and gained 3 yards on three impromptu runs.

"The offence goes as I go, so personally, I have to play better," he said. "But I think we shot ourselves in the foot too many times, had too many mistakes. Whenever we can get 11 guys working in one direction, we're going to be something special. That's something we'll continue to work on. We'll get it fixed."

At least Griffin didn't get hurt, and that's about the best that can be said of his night.

Backup Kirk Cousins went 14 for 20 for 122 yards and two touchdowns, but it's very likely he will be on the sideline when the Redskins (2-1) face Houston.

First-year coach Jay Gruden said of Griffin: "He's got to move on. We've got to do a better job of getting in rhythm, get some completions early, get some first downs. We were so bad on first and second down, I think, it kept us in some third down and longs."

Gruden said Griffin and most of the Redskins starters would not play in the preseason finale at Tampa Bay.

The Ravens, meanwhile, showed signs they're ready to bounce back from an 8-8 season.

"I thought we played a really good, solid football game," coach John Harbaugh said.

After Bernard Pierce got stuffed by Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson on a fourth-and-1 to end the game's first series at midfield, Washington used a 19-yard run by Alfred Morris and a pass interference call to set up a field goal.

Pierce left later in the first quarter to be examined for a concussion after being tackled in the backfield by a blitzing Brandon Meriweather. Pierce did not return and finished with minus-3 yards on four carries. He is expected to start the first two regular-season games while Ray Rice serves a suspension for domestic violence.

The period ended with Ravens rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro being stopped for no gain on a fourth-and-1 from the Washington 11.

"We have to be able to convert those," Flacco said.

NOTES: Redskins injuries included: LB Brian Orakpo (minor ankle sprain), CB Chase Minnifield (hamstring) and T Morgan Moses (slight MCL sprain). . Besides Pierce, the Ravens had no significant injuries. "I'm sure there will be some bumps and bruises that we'll look at," Harbaugh said. ... The teams were a combined 2 for 5 on fourth-and-1. After the Ravens were stopped twice and the Redskins once, Baltimore succeeded twice in the fourth quarter.

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Robert Griffin III and Joe Flacco (Photo: Canadian Press)

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(Photo: Canadian Press)
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