ATLANTA (AP) — Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan had similar stats in their preseason opener.
Flacco had the better support for the Baltimore Ravens.
Flacco and Ryan each threw one touchdown pass, but backup Curtis Painter threw three second-half touchdown passes to lead the Ravens to a 31-17 preseason win over the Falcons on Thursday night.
“I like the way our young guys competed and executed,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Curtis Painter made some big plays with three TD passes.”
Flacco and Ryan often are mentioned together as franchise quarterbacks from the 2008 draft who have started since the beginning of their rookie seasons.
Flacco’s 44 wins are the most by an NFL quarterback in his first four seasons. Ryan is second with 43 wins. Flacco has won at least one playoff game in each of his four seasons. Ryan has posted four straight winning seasons — a first for the Falcons — but has yet to win in the playoffs.
Each quarterback gave himself mixed reviews of the preseason opener.
“It’s the preseason, and it took us a little while to get going,” Flacco said. “We’ve got to look back at some of those plays and miscues, because the Falcons got a couple good pressures.”
Painter started eight games for Indianapolis in 2011 before signing with the Ravens.
“Obviously, scoring three times while we were in there was a good thing,” Painter said. “Just getting some momentum going. … It was a good first showing. I’ve just got to keep going from here.”
Ryan led two touchdown drives, including a scoring pass to Julio Jones.
Ryan completed 9 of 13 passes for 155 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was 5 for 5 for 71 yards, including the 7-yard touchdown pass to Jones, on the opening drive for Atlanta (No. 13 in the AP Pro32).
“I thought the first couple of drives, especially the first drive, we got out to a good rhythm,” Ryan said. “We were in the no-huddle in the first series, and it was good for us to work that package. … We made some mistakes, but we did some good things, too. There’s going to be a lot for us to improve on, but it’s a very good start.”
Jones had six catches for 109 yards and a touchdown.
Flacco completed 9 of 12 passes for 88 yards and a touchdown for Baltimore (No. 5). The Falcons led 14-0 before Flacco threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Ed Dickson midway through the second quarter.
Each starting quarterback left the game in the second quarter.
Ravens safety Omar Brown, an undrafted rookie from Marshall, had two fumble recoveries and an interception.
Atlanta starting linebacker Akeem Dent (knee) and rookie backup fullback Bradie Ewing (head) left the game with injuries.
Ewing hurt his right knee when blocking on Dominique Franks’ 45-yard punt return midway through the first quarter. Ewing, a fifth-round pick from Wisconsin, was helped off the field before being placed on a cart and driven to the locker room.
Dent walked off the field with the head injury he suffered when blocking on a Falcons punt. He is expected to take over at middle linebacker after Curtis Lofton signed with the Saints and Lofa Tatupu suffered a season-ending pectoral injury in training camp.
Baltimore backup defensive tackle Ryan McBean was carted off the field late in the first half with a left leg injury.
Painter, who played behind Flacco and Tyrod Taylor, completed 7 of 14 passes for 76 yards and three touchdowns.
Taylor completed 8 of 17 passes for 64 yards and had five carries for 51 yards.
Ryan, operating in first-year offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter’s attack, had completions of 13 yards to Roddy White, 26 yards to Jones, 19 yards to Jones and 6 yards to Jones on consecutive plays on Atlanta’s opening drive.
After Michael Turner ran for 3 yards to the Ravens 7, Ryan went back to Jones for the touchdown pass.
The Falcons had a first down at the Baltimore 15 later in the first quarter when Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo intercepted a pass from Ryan.
“That’s just poor play in the red zone,” Ryan said. “That’s something I have to be better at, and I can’t take points off the board.”
Matt Bryant’s 31-yard field goal gave Atlanta a 17-7 halftime lead.
“It was obvious in the first half that we have a lot of things to work on,” Harbaugh said. “Really, we need to be better on offense, defense and special teams. There were times we played like the Ravens, but we were not consistent.”
Justin Tucker kicked a 36-yard field goal for Baltimore in the third quarter.
A fumbled handoff by Atlanta third-string quarterback John Parker Wilson at the Falcons 10 was recovered by Baltimore’s Brown midway in the third period. Three plays later, Painter threw a 4-yard pass to Billy Bajema for a 17-17 tie.
Painter’s 22-yard pass to Deonte Thompson late in the third quarter gave Baltimore the lead.
Brown intercepted the first pass thrown by Atlanta fourth-stringer Drew Davis to set up Painter’s 18-yard TD pass to Bobby Rainey in the fourth quarter.
Brown recovered a fumble by Aron White following a catch later in the fourth quarter.
Atlanta backup Chris Redman couldn’t move the offense as he completed only 1 of 6 passes for 8 yards. Wilson was 8 of 13 passing for 69 yards.
The replacement officials seemed comfortable for the most part and even withstood the test of a replay when Falcons coach Mike Smith made an unsuccessful challenge on a sideline pass from Ryan to Davis in the first quarter.
The officials ruled Davis was out of bounds and the call stood after review.
The officials referred to the Falcons as “Arizona” twice during the game, drawing chuckles from some fans.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)