Flacco's TD pass helps Ravens beat Redskins 23-17 as RG3 struggles
BALTIMORE, Md. (AP/WJLA) — Robert Griffin III struggled mightily, playing into the first series of the third quarter and again failing to get the Washington Redskins into the end zone.
For better or worse, that is how he will finish the preseason.
After a 23-17 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday night, first-year coach Jay Gruden said he needs to see more of the backups than he does of Griffin, who appears poised to start the Sept. 7 opener despite a lackluster showing this summer.
"Whenever we can get 11 guys working in one direction, we're going to be something special, and I think that's something we'll continue to work on," Griffin said. "We'll get it fixed by the time Houston comes in."
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 offense 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."
At least Griffin didn't get hurt, and that's about the best that can be said of his night.
Although RG3 is 13 for 20 for 141 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions in exhibition play, Gruden says his quarterback is doing better than perceived.
"He is further along than it appears he is," Gruden said. "I think, based on his production today, a lot of people would say he's not further along. I think he's a lot further along than he gets credit for. ... I've seen him practice and I've seen him come a long way. Obviously, today didn't show how much he's come forward."
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.
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.
If this was a dress rehearsal for the regular season, the Ravens had reason to be encouraged. Joe Flacco went 16 for 23 for 180 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown throw to Steve Smith with 25 seconds left in the second quarter.
Operating in first-year offensive coordinator 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 offseason, Steve Smith finished with six catches for 80 yards. He was asked if the offense 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."
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.