Ravens fight past Washington


BALTIMORE — Joe Flacco’s final throw was a touchdown pass, providing a positive ending to an uneven performance by the Baltimore Ravens’ first-team offense.

Robert Griffin III concluded his horrid outing with an interception, leaving the Washington Redskins much to consider in the wake of a 23-17 preseason defeat Saturday night.

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 Steve Smith with 25 seconds left in the first half.

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 for first-year offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.

Griffin, on the other hand, never found his groove. The third-year quarterback 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.

“I think we did a pretty good job of containing him and getting after him,” Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs said.

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) open the season at Houston on Sept. 7.

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

Flacco went 6 for 8 for 74 yards during that 74-yard drive at the end of the second quarter. Steve Smith finished with six catches for 80 yards and Torrey Smith had four catches for 41 yards.

TITANS 24, FALCONS 17

ATLANTA — A healthy Julio Jones made a big difference for Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons’ offense.

Jones broke two tackles on a 52-yard touchdown pass from Ryan as the Falcons built a big early lead before rookie Bishop Sankey’s late scoring run lifted the Tennessee Titans to a 24-17 preseason win on Saturday night.

Atlanta (1-2) led 17-3 late in the first half and 17-10 at halftime.

Buccaneers 27, Bills 14

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Defensive tackle Clinton McDonald provided quarterback Josh McCown and the rebuilt Buccaneers’ offense a hand in helping run up the score on the slow-starting Bills.

McDonald returned a fumble 17 yards for a touchdown and McCown directed two scoring drives. Doug Martin scored on a 1-yard run and McCown hit first-round pick Mike Evans on a perfectly placed 24-yard fade pass to the right corner in helping the Bucs (1-2) build a 24-0 first-half lead.

McDonald’s touchdown came 1:37 after Connor Barth hit a 43-yard field goal to put Tampa Bay ahead 10-0.

With Buffalo facing first-and-20 at its 22, Adrian Clayborn burst around the left side to sack EJ Manuel and force the ball loose. McDonald scooped it up and rumbled into the end zone.

Dolphins 25, Cowboys 20

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Orleans Darkwa ran in from 1 yard with 1:45 left, and the Dolphins rallied from two scores down in the final minutes to beat the Cowboys.

Gator Hoskins caught a 27-yard touchdown pass from Matt Moore earlier in the fourth period for Miami.

Ryan Tannehill completing 13 of 21 passes for 119 yards with an interception for Miami, and Knowshon Moreno had 64 yards on 10 carries in his preseason debut.

Tony Romo played the first half and completed 10 of 18 passes for 87 yards for the Cowboys. Tyler Patmon had a 9-yard interception return for a score and LaRon Byrd caught a 27-yard touchdown pass for Dallas, which got field goals of 52 and 50 yards from Dan Bailey.

RAMS 33, BROWNS 14

CLEVELAND — St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford reinjured the left knee he had surgery on last season and the Rams had four other starters hurt in a 33-14 win over the Cleveland Browns on Saturday night.

Bradford went down after being hit by Browns defensive lineman Armonty Bryant in the first quarter. He grimaced in pain before walking gingerly to the sideline with Rams coach Jeff Fisher watching every delicate step.

Bradford was examined on the bench and then escorted to the locker room for further medical tests. He did not return.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher thought Bradford hyperextended his knee, but will wait for more tests on Sunday.

Browns starting quarterback Brian Hoyer threw a touchdown pass and celebrated rookie backup Johnny Manziel had a 7-yard TD run. Manziel was also sacked twice by Rams rookie Michael Sam, who punctuated the first takedown by mimicking Manziel’s “money” sign.

“If you’re going to sack Johnny, you’ve got to do that once,” Sam said.

Manziel went 10 of 15 for 85 yards.

Saints 23, Colts 17

INDIANAPOLIS — Drew Brees threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter and led New Orleans to a win at Indianapolis.

After missing more than two weeks of practice and the Saints’ first two preseason games with a strained left side muscle, Brees showed no sign of rustiness. He went 9 of 15 for 128 yards with no interceptions for New Orleans (3-0).

Six-time Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne suited up for the Colts (0-3) for the first time since tearing his right ACL last October, but Indy’s offense struggled.

Andrew Luck played into the third quarter and finished 10 of 18 for 103 yards with one TD and one interception. Wayne caught two passes, both of which were wiped out by penalties.

Brees’ 13-yard TD pass to Marques Colston made it 14-7 and the Saints never trailed again.

Texans 18, Broncos 17

DENVER — Peyton Manning and Emmanuel Sanders found their rhythm after an early miscue, connecting for two long touchdowns in the final 67 seconds of the first half of Denver’s preseason loss to Houston.

Manning was whistled for taunting following his second TD toss to Sanders. The Broncos said that was apparently the first such penalty in the five-time MVP’s career.

Manning ran up to D.J. Swearinger and gave an earful to the Texans’ swaggering second-year safety who leveled Wes Welker with a forearm to the face one play earlier. Welker, who has a history of head injuries, was evaluated for a possible concussion.

With all that work they put in together, both teams treated this third preseason game more like a second exhibition, with many stars getting cameos at best. Neither team sent front-line players out to start the second half for what is traditionally the final regular-season tuneup.

 

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