BALTIMORE — Despite 243 total yards of offense in the first half and an impressive 24-10 thrashing of the New York Giants, the Ravens suffered a significant loss on Saturday night, losing wide receiver Donte’ Stallworth for the next two months due to a broken left foot.
Stallworth will have surgery immediately and a screw will be inserted in the foot with hope that the receiver can return after the bye in Week 8, according to head coach John Harbaugh.
“That’s really disappointing for him and for our football team, obviously,” Harbaugh said. “We’ll do what we do. We’ll step up and the next guy will play well.”
The injury was sustained when the receiver “just planted wrong,” according to teammate Derrick Mason.
With Stallworth working as the punt returner and fourth receiver, the Ravens will now lean more heavily on Tom Zbikowski and Mark Clayton for return duties and will look down the depth chart at Demetrius Williams, David Reed, and Marcus Smith for additional help in the receiving unit.
Passing offense thrives
Joe Flacco may have only played 34 minutes in Saturday night’s win over the New York Giants, but his right arm received a full night’s work as the quarterback threw 34 passes, completing 21 and accumulating 229 yards through the air.
“I like to play and come out and just throw the ball, throw the ball, and throw the ball some more,” Flacco said. “It was fun man. I had a great time, and I think everybody out on the field did.”
It was apparent offensive coordinator Cam Cameron wanted to see his passing offense find a rhythm after an uneven performance against Washington last Saturday. The Ravens decimated the Giants defense for 243 yards of total offense and 17 points in the first half. The offense turned the ball over once in the first half on a late interception thrown by Flacco.
“Our tempo with the no-huddle was good, and our ball protection was better,” Cameron said. “We stressed both this week.”
Flacco’s favorite target on Saturday night was Heap, who continues to have an impressive preseason with two rookie tight ends pushing him for playing time and the veteran avoiding the injury bug. Heap caught six passes for 69 yards, including a 13-yard touchdown catch to put the Ravens ahead, 17-0 in the second quarter.
“It was just a play where [Flacco] had faith in me to go get the ball,” Heap said. “I’m definitely glad to see it work. It’s a play where you have to body the guy up and make a play.”
Though Anquan Boldin made his Baltimore debut two weeks ago against the Carolina Panthers, Saturday night marked the first time the impact receiver was announced to the crowd in pre-game introductions, earning loud cheers from the 70,742 on hand at M&T Bank Stadium as the starting offense was announced.
The raucous crowd grew even louder when Boldin reined in a 9-yard touchdown pass from Flacco early in the second quarter. The Ravens hope it was the first of many this season as the new impact wideout will be leaned upon to help the passing offense reach new heights. The score put Baltimore up by 10, and the Ravens never looked back.
“We’re just starting to get comfortable with one another,” Boldin said about his relationship with his new quarterback. “For us, we considered the half a real game, and we tried to pick it up a little bit and get in sync because this is truly the first dress rehearsal that we’ll get before the regular season.”
Boldin finished his evening with four catches for 52 yards with the aforementioned touchdown grab. The former Arizona Cardinals receiver has also earned a reputation as a strong blocker during his career, displaying it Saturday night when he wrestled a defensive back to the ground during a run play.
“That’s always been a part of my game,” Boldin said. “I hate to see a running back break a run. He could have gone for 30 or 40 yards, but my guy makes the tackle. So that’s something I take pride in. I was in one of those situations where a guy put his hand on my face mask, that pissed me off a little bit, so I had to get him back.”
Field goal opportunities passed up
The kicking competition remains undecided with Saturday’s victory providing little clarity in the process.
The Ravens converted three fourth-down tries in the second quarter, passing on potential field goal attempts from 26, 53, and 48 yards. Billy Cundiff made the only attempt by either kicker on the night, a 25-yard field goal in the first quarter.
“We have confidence with this [offense] on fourth-and-short, and we’ll continue to be aggressive with those,” Cameron said after the first half.
Shayne Graham lined up for a 41-yard field goal late in the first half, but Mason was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, moving the Ravens out of field-goal range and forcing the punting unit onto the field.
Though completely healthy and dressed in uniform, running back Willis McGahee did not play in the third preseason game. The Ravens’ running game did not get much of a workout as a whole in the first half, with only 11 rushing attempts and four of them coming from Flacco.
“We just don’t need to play those [veterans] every single week,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t think we need to see what [McGahee] can do.”
In addition to Stallworth, the Ravens lost another receiver against the Giants when Clayton sustained a concussion on an illegal hit from safety Antrel Rolle in the second quarter.
“That’s obviously something to be careful with, but we’ll see,” Harbaugh said. “It shouldn’t be a long-term thing.”
Linebacker Ray Lewis left the game early in the second quarter and was icing his right knee on the bench in the first half. The 15-year veteran, however, told WNST.net’s Glenn Clark that it was “nothing” to be concerned over after the game.
Odds & ends
The Ravens now hold a 7-5 all-time record against the Giants in the preseason. The victory was the team’s seventh straight preseason win. … Giants receiver Victor Cruz’s 1-yard touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter was the first defensive touchdown allowed by the Baltimore defense in the preseason. … Lardarius Webb was listed as inactive for Saturday’s game, but dressed in uniform and went through pre-game activity before the game. The Ravens’ other inactives were Jared Gaither, Terrence Cody, Oniel Cousins, Demetrius Williams, Eron Riley, Marcus Paschal, K.J. Gerard, David Hale, Daniel Sanders, Ed Reed, Brendon Ayanbadejo, and Matt Lawrence.