BALTIMORE -- Tarvaris Jackson put up some impressive numbers against the Baltimore Ravens. Far more important was that the Minnesota Vikings quarterback left the stadium with just a bruise on his tender right knee.
Jackson was removed in the first quarter of Saturday night's 23-15 win over the Ravens with a knee injury, but a potentially devastating moment for the Vikings turned out to be far less harrowing than expected.
"He just banged his knee," Minnesota coach Brad Childress said. "We're calling it a contusion right now. ... I'm not concerned."
Jackson hurt his right knee on a 9-yard run, then stayed in for two more plays before leaving. He watched most of the second quarter from the sideline with his knee wrapped in ice.
Asked if Jackson could have stayed in if it was a regular season game, Childress replied, "There's a chance he could have, but you still always want to protect yourself."
Jackson finished 7-for-11 for 82 yards and a touchdown. He also ran twice for 22 yards before leaving during Minnesota's second series.
"While he was in there, I thought he was sharp," Childress said.
The focus for both teams was on the quarterbacks. Jackson excelled in his brief appearance, but the manner in which he left was worrisome for the Vikings (1-1), given that the third-year quarterback missed four games with injuries last season.
Troy Smith, locked in a duel with Kyle Boller to earn the starting assignment, struggled in his first start of the preseason for Baltimore (1-1). The former Heisman Trophy winner went 3-for-5 for 25 yards and an interception in the first half, finishing with a horrid 33.3 quarterback rating. He did, however, gain 35 yards on three carries behind a makeshift offensive line.
"Getting out of the pocket and making plays is something we're going to be doing this year," Smith said.
Boller entered in the third quarter and went 8-for-12 for 40 yards. He also threw an interception, his third turnover in two games.
Top draft pick Joe Flacco played the final two drives.
"I think Troy and Kyle, by the basis of practice so far, have separated themselves from Joe in terms of being ready to line up and win a football game for us at this level," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.
Harbaugh would not name his starter for Baltimore's next preseason game.
Jackson opened the game with a 70-yard drive to put Minnesota up 7-0. After running for 13 yards on a third-and-11, he threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Martin Nance, who deftly tapped both feet in the back corner of the end zone.
Smith answered with a touchdown drive of his own, but most of the credit belonged to rookie running back Ray Rice. Playing in place of injured Willis McGahee, Rice ran for 42 yards on Baltimore's second play from scrimmage and finished with a 6-yard TD run.
Minnesota then ran six plays before Jackson scrambled to his right. He was hit by linebacker Antwan Barnes in the leg, then struggled ahead before being taken down by Dawan Landry and Ray Lewis.
"We didn't stop them, and a lot of that came from Jackson scrambling," Harbaugh said.
Jackson stayed in long enough to hand the ball off to Adrian Peterson and complete a 12-yard pass to Sidney Rice before collapsing near the Vikings bench.
Gus Frerotte completed the drive, which produced the first of three field goals by Steven Hauschka.
"I went in a little earlier than I expected ... and felt pretty comfortable," said Frerotte, signed as a free agent during the offseason. "When you go in with those guys, you just have to step up."
Frerotte went 4-for-9 for 32 yards and threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Robert Ferguson for a 17-7 lead.
Baltimore played without injured defensive starters Chris McAlister, Samari Rolle, Ed Reed and Kelly Gregg. But the Ravens got a touchdown from defensive back Derrick Martin, who picked off a pass by rookie John David Booty and returned it 22 yards to make it 23-15 with 12:11 left.
"He's got to do a better job of taking care of the football," Childress said of Booty.
|Minnesota (1-1-0) «||7||13||3||0||23|
MIN - Pass: T. Jackson (7-11, 82), Rec: M. Nance (3-74)|
BAL - Pass: J. Flacco (10-15, 74), Rush: R. Rice (8-77)
|TD||Martin Nance, 23 Yd pass from Tarvaris Jackson (Steven Hauschka kick is good), 10:24. Drive: 11 plays, 70 yards in 4:36.|
|TD||Ray Rice, 6 Yd run (Matt Stover kick is good), 6:11. Drive: 7 plays, 73 yards in 4:13.|
|FG||Steven Hauschka 21 Yd, 14:58. Drive: 14 plays, 74 yards in 6:13.|
|TD||Robert Ferguson, 5 Yd pass from Gus Frerotte (Steven Hauschka kick is good), 6:58. Drive: 12 plays, 77 yards in 4:44.|
|FG||Steven Hauschka 34 Yd, 0:00. Drive: 4 plays, -5 yards in 1:26.|
|FG||Steven Hauschka 48 Yd, 1:21. Drive: 13 plays, 34 yards in 5:22.|
|TD||Derrick Martin, 22 Yd interception return (Cory Ross Run for 2 Pt. Conversion), 12:11.|
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