Ryan Mallett struggled in place of injured quarterback Joe Flacco, throwing for only 58 yards while playing the entire first half, and the Baltimore Ravens beat the Washington Redskins 23-3 on Thursday night in a sloppy preseason opener.
The Ravens scored 13 points while Mallett was in the game, including a 2-yard touchdown run by Terrance West following two costly penalties by the Redskins: pass interference for 23 yards on a third-and-8 and an illegal formation on a field goal try that hit the left upright.
Flacco has yet to take a snap this summer because of a bad back. That left Mallett to run the first-team offense; he went 9 for 18 and was sacked once.
In his defense, Mallett was operating behind a makeshift line and without his top three receivers.
But he didn’t give the Ravens any reason to lose interest in adding free agent quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The Redskins, similarly, had very little success moving the ball. Starting quarterback Kirk Cousins went three-and-out on his two possessions, completing 1 of 2 passes, and Washington managed only 47 yards on 27 plays while falling behind 13-0 at halftime.
Though Baltimore’s offense sputtered, its upgraded defense proved to be as good as advertised. Free agent defensive backs Tony Jefferson and Brandon Carr teamed with Jimmy Smith and Eric Weddle to seal the back end.
The biggest play of the first half was the last one: Justin Tucker kicked a 59-yard field goal for a 13-0 lead.
Rookie watch: Redskins' First-round draft pick Jonathan Allen sacked Mallett in the second quarter while playing with the second-team defense. … RB Samaje Perine fumbled and dropped a wide-open pass on consecutive plays in the second quarter. … Seventh-round draft pick Joshua Holsey was called for a 23-yard pass interference penalty in the first quarter and broke up a long pass attempt by Mallett in the end zone in the second.
Ravens' Second-round draft pick Tyus Bowser had three tackles and a “quarterback hurry” in the first half. … Rookie free agent Quincy Adeboyejo was targeted three times and had one catch for 10 yards.
Injury update: Redskins: TE Jordan Reed (toe), WR Jamison Crowder (hamstring), WR Josh Doctson (hamstring) and LB Junior Galette (hamstring) all sat out. Reed is on the physically unable to perform list and hasn’t practiced all training camp. LB Trent Murphy sprained his left knee in the first quarter and did not return.
Ravens: Besides Flacco, the Ravens offense was without OLs Marshal Yanda, Alex Lewis and Austin Howard; WRs Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman; TE Benjamin Watson; and RB Danny Woodhead. The defense was missing top draft pick Marlon Humphrey, who participated in pregame agility drills but did not dress.
Position battles: Redskins: LB Zach Brown, signed to a one-year deal after a Pro Bowl season with Buffalo, had a tackle for loss and was one of the best defenders early. Brown is behind Will Compton and Mason Foster at inside linebacker.
Ravens: WR/KR Tim White returned one punt for 9 yards in the first quarter, ran for 8 yards on an end-around and caught a TD pass in the third quarter. Signed as a rookie free agent, the Arizona State product compiled 3,381 all-purpose yards in two years. He’s in competition with second-year pro Keenan Reynolds, whose 46-yard punt return in the third quarter set up White’s touchdown.