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John Harbaugh: Ryan Mallett 'played winning football' in preseason opener

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh stressed the positive after quarterback Ryan Mallett's rough performance in Thursday's preseason opener.

"I thought he played winning football," Harbaugh said after the Ravens' 23-3 win over the Washington Redskins. "He played good football, just what we asked him to do."

Still, Mallett's shaky outing didn't alleviate concerns about Joe Flacco's back injury or quiet those wanting Baltimore to sign Colin Kaepernick. He was all over the place on most of his throws, connecting on 9 of 18 passes for 58 yards in one half of work, and he didn't complete a pass longer than 11 yards.

In Mallett's defense, Baltimore didn't suit up its top three wide receivers (Jeremy Maclin, Mike Wallace and Breshad Perriman), its pass-catching running back (Danny Woodhead), its most experienced tight end (Ben Watson) and three projected starters on the offensive line (Marshal Yanda, Alex Lewis and Austin Howard).

In a way, Mallett did play winning football in that he didn't turn over the ball and Baltimore scored on half of Mallett's drives. But he often missed open receivers and was nearly picked off when he threw badly behind Michael Campanaro. Plus, the 13 points scored by the Ravens when Mallett was quarterbacking primarily came off Redskins' penalties and a turnover.

"We need [to be] more consistent," Mallett said. "It's the first preseason game, you've got a lot of new guys out there, but it's to be expected."

Mallett's struggles stood out even more because the Ravens were clicking in every other area. The defense only allowed 138 yards for the entire game. Special teams got a 59-yard field goal from Justin Tucker and a 46-yard punt return from Keenan Reynolds. The offense got a boost from the hard running from Terrance West (23 yards on five carries including a touchdown).

There is no definitive timetable on Flacco, who has now missed two weeks of training camp. That means Mallett will continue to run the first-team offense like he's done since camp opened.

The preseason opener was similar to how Mallett has practiced in training camp. He was off target on plenty of throws downfield, and there were a couple of throws that were so wild that it was difficult to know who the intended target was. Overall, he was 5-of-12 on passes to his wide receivers and tight ends.

It led to a woeful first half. To put it in perspective, only four quarterbacks (Carson Palmer, Brock Osweiler, Alex Smith and Carson Wentz) last season threw for fewer first-half yards than Mallett with at least as many throws as him.

"The more snaps we played, everybody was kind of settling in a little bit more, and you know, we got the win," Mallett said. "That was goal No. 1 for us."