Preview Baltimore at Dallas
(SportsNetwork.com) - Get set for an inaugural event in north Texas on Saturday as the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens meet for the first time ever in preseason play.
The Cowboys' practice games got off to a rocky start in San Diego last week when Dallas' biggest weakness from a year ago, it's much-maligned defense, remained a serious problem in the team's 27-7 loss to the Chargers.
The Chargers, who went 9-7 last season before losing to the Denver Broncos in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, racked up 395 yards of total offense.
With Tony Romo sitting out to rest his surgically repaired back, Brandon Weeden got the start for the Cowboys. The former Browns quarterback completed 13-of-17 passes for 107 yards and a touchdown to tight end James Hanna.
Tight end Jason Witten and running backs DeMarco Murray and Lance Dunbar also sat out for Dallas, which has finished 8-8 the past three seasons. Joseph Randle carried the ball 13 times for 50 yards in the loss.
"I thought there were some good things and still a lot of areas that we need to improve," said Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett.
The Cowboys, of course, lost edge rusher DeMarcus Ware and defensive tackle Jason Hatcher in free agency and then saw star middle linebacker Sean Lee suffer a season-ending knee injury during OTAs.
Things only got worse this week when the NFL confirmed that starting cornerback Orlando Scandrick will be suspended for the first four games of the 2014 season for violating the performance-enhancing drugs policy.
Baltimore, on the other hand, rolled in its preseason opener as Justin Tucker hit three field goals in the Ravens' 23-3 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
In a rematch of Super Bowl XLVII (The Harbaugh Bowl), it was John's Ravens coming out on top again as Bernard Pierce's touchdown run in the first quarter gave the team all the points it needed against Jim's Niners.
Starting quarterback Joe Flacco led Baltimore on an 80-yard touchdown drive in his only series and set the tone for a Ravens offense that amassed 386 yards.
"You expect to go out there and have a good drive," said Flacco, who completed 4-of-5 passes for 52 yards. "You envision good things happening. You have a good idea of what plays you're going to run. It went on schedule."
Embattled Baltimore running back Ray Rice saw limited action as he carried the ball three times for 17 yards. Rice has been suspended for the first two games of the regular season following his arrest earlier this year on charges he hit his now wife in an Atlantic City casino, but he can participate in all preseason activities.