On a night when the Ravens' first-team offense was shaky and their first-team defense was inconsistent at best, the special teams carried John Harbaugh's crew to a 23-3 win over the Redskins.
The special teams plays came from all over. Billy Cundiff and Shayne Graham went a combined 3-for-3 on field goals, Sam Koch continuously pinned the Skins deep in their own territory on punts, and Haruki Nakamura set up the Ravens' first touchdown with a 51-yard run on a fake punt.
Nakamura's play was easily the highlight of the night, as the third-year safety took a direct snap from a punt formation and took off to his right. He juked out Redskins linebacker H.B. Blades near the line of scrimmage, then left wide receiver Brandon Banks flailing on the turf with a cutback move.
Finally, Nakamura was brought down at the Washington 1-yard-line, just inches from the goal line.
Willis McGahee capped off Nakamura's effort by taking it in for a touchdown on the next play.
"You had to like the call [special teams coordinator] Jerry Rosburg sent in on the fake punt," head coach John Harbaugh said. "The Redskins looked like they had it figured out a little before the snap, but Haruki handled it and made the play."
"I had an option to get out of it, but I saw that the hole was open before the snap," Nakamura said. "Once I got the ball, the linebacker stepped in the hole and I had to bounce it outside. I just kept cutting back, and on the second cutback I thought I was going to score. After that, I just hit the wall."
Outside of the special teams plays, however, the Ravens struggled to do much in the first half.
The first-team offense fumbled three times on their first four possessions (losing one) and picked up just three first downs in that period.
Joe Flacco went 9-of-16 for 72 yards, Ray Rice gained 17 yards on three carries in his first preseason action of the year, and Anquan Boldin, Derrick Mason and Todd Heap combined to make five grabs for 34 yards.
"Our ball security has to be better," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "We lost one, but we put it on the ground three times in the first half."
The first-string defense did a good job containing the run (which defensive coordinator Greg Mattison said was an emphasis coming into the game), but allowed 96 passing yards in the first quarter and couldn't stop the Redskins on third downs on opening drive, allowing three straight third-down conversions.
The second-team offense and defense actually outperformed the ones, as Marc Bulger went 13-of-16 for 130 yards, and the D finished by allowing only one successful Washington third-down in the final three quarters.
"It was good, but it can be better," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "This was only the second preseason game, and it's a long way until Monday night [in Week 1 at the Jets]. We need to keep trucking along and climbing that ladder until we get where we are supposed to be."