BALTIMORE (AP) — Joe Flacco and backup quarterback Matt Schaub directed first-quarter touchdown drives, starting the Baltimore Ravens on their way to a 30-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Thursday night in a preseason opener.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was held out by coach Sean Payton. Brees participated in pregame drills but remained on the sideline after the opening kickoff.
"It was our plan for this game," Payton said.
Luke McCown started, and by the time New Orleans got its initial first down Baltimore led 17-0.
New Orleans took the lead for the first time when Marcus Murphy scored on a 3-yard run with 1:56 left. The score came after Terrence Frederick picked off a pass by Bryn Renner.
Renner answered with a 1-yard touchdown run with 2 seconds left to give Baltimore the win.
Flacco stuck around for just one series: a 16-play, 80-yard march in which he completed five of six passes for 33 yards and ran for 17 yards. The drive lasted more than eight minutes and ended with a 1-yard, fourth-down run by Lorenzo Taliaferro.
Schaub took over and threw a 45-yard scoring pass to Michael Campanaro. The 34-year-old Schaub, a two-time Pro Bowler, is poised to replace the departed Tyrod Taylor behind Flacco.
Playing through the third quarter, Schaub went 11 for 18 for 134 yards with an interception.
Observations from the game:
START ME UP
Saints: New Orleans went more than 18 minutes before making a first down, held the ball for only 3:06 in the first quarter, and was outgained 152 yards to 11. "I really wasn’t excited with how we played starting off," Payton said.
Ravens: Flacco saw the initial touchdown drive as vindication for all the time dedicated to practice this summer. "You feel like everything you’ve been doing during training camp is paying off," he said.
Saints: First-round draft pick Andrus Peat (Stanford) came into the game with the second-team offense at the end of the first half. The 6-foot-7 tackle played a role in a second-quarter TD drive and sealed the end on a couple of second-half runs before departing midway through the fourth quarter.
Ravens: TE Maxx Williams caught two passes for 36 yards, including a 22-yarder during the final drive. With Dennis Pitta out with a hip injury and Owen Daniels gone via free agency, Williams could play a big role in the offense this season.
Saints: CB Brandon Browner limped to the sideline following a goal-line collision with teammate Hau’oli Kikaha in the first quarter. LB Dannell Ellerbe (unknown injury) and CB Delvin Breaux (shoulder) also went to the locker room in the first period.
Ravens: TE Allen Reisner broke an ankle and was undergoing surgery by the end of the game. DB Asa Jackson, who’s vying to replace Jacoby Jones as the team’s kick returner, left in the second quarter with a knee injury. He returned two punts for 8 yards.
Saints: Zach Strief, the Saints’ starting right tackle since 2011, struggled early on. He allowed Ravens end Elvis Dumervil to blow past him on a third down, forcing McCown into an incomplete pass. On the second series, Strief couldn’t clear any space for running back Mark Ingram on a third-and-1. In the placekicking battle, Dustin Hopkins converted two extra points and sent two kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks in the first half. Zack Hocker missed a 50-yard field goal early in the third quarter, then converted from 47 and 50 yards. He also had three touchbacks on kickoffs.
Ravens: In the duel to be the backup to starting running back Justin Forsett, Lorenzo Taliaferro ran for 36 yards on 12 carries and rookie Javorius Allen gained 35 yards on 11 carries.
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman, an LSU product, attended the game and tweeted a photo of himself wearing a Saints jersey.
Saints: New Orleans was called for 16 penalties totaling 143 yards. "One thing that stood out were the penalties. It’s obvious," Payton said.
Ravens: Baltimore was called for only six penalties, a rather low number for this time of year. "We got guys who were doing things the right way," coach John Harbaugh said.