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Ryan gets Falcons started in win over Ravens

POSTED: September 2, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Gail Burton | The Associated Press/

Atlanta Falcons tight end Jason Rader, right, carries the ball for 5 yards as Baltimore Ravens safety Jim Leonhard tackles him Thursday during the first quarter in Baltimore, Md.

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BALTIMORE — The top two quarterbacks selected in the 2008 NFL draft started their team’s final preseason game — for vastly different reasons.

Matt Ryan played two series Thursday night to get a feel for being Atlanta’s starting quarterback. Joe Flacco started out of necessity for Baltimore, and his so-so performance in a 10-9 defeat did little to bring any clarity to the Ravens’ messy quarterback situation.

Ryan, the third overall pick, went 2-for-7 for 17 yards before taking a seat. The former Boston College star finished the preseason 34-for-59 for 294 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

His next start will be in the regular-season opener on Sept. 7 against Detroit.

Flacco, the 18th player selected, was 8-for-13 for 72 yards. He left early in the second quarter after directing a 63-yard drive that produced a field goal for a 3-0 lead.

Flacco started a second straight week because Troy Smith was still ailing from a viral infection and Kyle Boller was nursing a serious shoulder injury that could keep him sidelined for several weeks. First-year coach John Harbaugh still hasn’t decided upon his starter for the opener against Cincinnati, but Flacco may get the call by default.

"Even if we planned to name a starter, we couldn’t right now," Harbaugh said at halftime. "We’ll find out more about Kyle in the next couple of days. We don’t know about Troy. We’ll see what the next few days bring."

With Flacco running the offense, the Ravens made five first downs. On his scoring drive, the former Delaware standout went 3-for-4 for 40 yards.

"We need to score and finish our drives better," Flacco said, "but overall we did a pretty good job."

One week earlier, Flacco had to play the entire game against the St. Louis Rams because Smith and Boller were unavailable. The Ravens signed free agent Casey Bramlet hours before Thursday’s game and used him over the final three periods.

Bramlet went 7-for-21 for 100 yards and two interceptions. He played last season for the Miami Dolphins under Cam Cameron, who is now Baltimore’s offensive coordinator.

D.J. Shockley replaced Ryan and threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Brian Finneran with 20 seconds left in the first half. It turned out to be the only TD in a lackluster contest dominated by both defenses.

Third-string running back Jason Snelling had 88 yards rushing for Atlanta (2-2), which finished the preseason with a two-game winning streak.

Matt Stover kicked field goals of 25, 31 and 48 yards for the Ravens (1-3).



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