BALTIMORE (AP) — Joe Flacco went 11 for 16 for 94 yards in his first action since November, but the Baltimore Ravens lost tight end Benjamin Watson to a season-ending injury during a 30-9 preseason victory over the Detroit Lions on Saturday night.
Coming off surgery to repair ligaments in his left knee, Flacco played in two series spanning the first quarter. He took the Ravens (3-0) to a field goal in their opening possession and ended his performance by misfiring on a fourth-down pass from the Detroit 43.
Linebacker Terrell Suggs also returned for the Ravens, participating in his first game since tearing his Achilles tendon in the season opener last year. He made two tackles.
Matthew Stafford played the first half for Detroit (1-2), completing 14 of 23 passes for 95 yards. He threw an interception and did not produce a touchdown.
The Ravens signed Watson as a free agent in March, hoping he would become one of Flacco’s prime option this season. That plan ended when the 35-year-old tore his right Achilles tendon on the game’s first play.
Watson appeared to trip while running a pattern and slumped to the turf. He was helped off the field.
In the second quarter, promising rookie running back Kenneth Dixon was stacked up on the goal line and left with a sprained knee. He came in with a team-high 66 yards rushing and added 41 more on six carries.
Beset by injuries while going 5-11 last season, the Ravens hoped this season would be different. But their lengthy injury list includes three tight ends: Watson, Dennis Pitta and Maxx Williams. In addition, Nick Boyle will miss the first 10 weeks for violating the league’s drug policy.
With Watson out, Flacco turned his attention toward wide receiver Mike Wallace, signed as a free agent during the offseason. Wallace was targeted six times, catching three for 37 yards.
The Ravens pulled away in this one with a 17-point second quarter, fueled by the efficient play of backup quarterback Ryan Mallett and aided by an interception by Anthony Levine late in the half.
After Jeremy Butler made an outstanding catch of a 25-yard touchdown pass from Mallett, Stafford threw his first interception of the preseason. After Dixon hurt his knee, Mallett scored on a 1-yard run for a 20-3 lead.
Detroit’s Matt Prater kicked a 60-yard field goal to end the first half.
Lions: Devon Bell misfired badly on a 42-yard field-goal try, but rebounded to hit one from 33 yards. Veteran Matt Prater, on the other hand, kicked a 60-yarder to end the first half.
Ravens: Top draft pick Ronnie Stanley remains a fixture at left tackle. He started next to fellow rookie Alex Lewis, who played left guard for the injured John Urschel (contusion).
Lions: Undrafted rookie TE Cole Wick had mixed results in his effort to impress at a position beset by injuries. He had two catches for 20 yards, but was called for holding on a touchdown run.
Ravens: With Dixon out, Terrance West appears poised to be the backup behind Justin Forsett. He gained 43 yards rushing compared to 15 for Javorius Allen.
Olympic gold medalist Helen Maroulis attended the game and ended up being more than just a spectator. Ravens coach John Harbaugh spoke to her beforehand and liked what he heard about what she went through to be a freestyle wrestler. So he asked her to address the team in the locker room before the players took the field.
Standout defensive end Haloti Ngata faced the Ravens for the first time since being traded from Baltimore to Detroit last season. He had three tackles and a sack.
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