By the time the downpour came and lightning flashed near Raymond James Stadium on Thursday night Joe Flacco Ray Rice Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs had long found a spot on the Ravens’ sideline where they remained the rest of the night.
Mostly fulfilling their No.1 goal the Ravens appeared to get out of their 44-16 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in their preseason opener without any significant injuries to their starting players though both Bernard Pierce and Deonte Thompson were banged up after the game.

Beyond that it was an uneven performance by the Ravens’ starting offense while the first-team defense relied on the play of several newcomers mainly middle linebacker Daryl Smith and defensive end Chris Canty to keep the Buccaneers out of the end zone.

“We are pleased that we were able to keep pressure on them in all three phases of the game” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh who played most of his top starters for about a quarter. “You keep going after an opponent and when you do that sometimes you can overcome mistakes and penalties.”

Flacco played two series but couldn’t lead the Ravens to points. He finished the night completing 7-of-9 passes for 57 yards and an interception by former teammate Danny Gorrer. Flacco did not throw an interception in the Ravens’ final six games last season.
“I think for the most part it felt pretty good and not just in terms of finally being back out here” Flacco said. “I felt like we operated OK for being this early and that the offensive line played pretty well. There are a couple things we need to clean up – like on the interception – because those are little things that we need to detail and get better at so we stay on the field and score points.”

Running back Ray Rice exited the game after rushing three times for seven yards while Pierce his top backup took three carries for 21 yards but limped off the field for good on the night after he was hit in the right left while finishing a 20-yard touchdown run. It did not appear to be serious but he left the stadium with his knee wrapped.

The Ravens’ offensive line mostly held up giving Flacco and backup Tyrod Taylor enough time to survey the field and find wide receivers. Taylor was particularly impressive completing 13-of-23 passes for 154 yards and two touchdowns and running five times for 27 yards.