BALTIMORE — The night was supposed to be about the long-awaited returns of quarterback Joe Flacco and linebacker Terrell Suggs.
Instead, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh ended up lamenting two significant injuries and a preseason schedule filled with games that are “not meaningful.”
Flacco went 11 for 16 for 94 yards in his first action since November, but the Ravens apparently lost tight end Benjamin Watson for the season during a 30-9 preseason victory over the Detroit Lions on Saturday night.
After Watson tore his right Achilles tendon on the game’s first play, promising rookie running back Kenneth Dixon left in the second quarter with a sprained knee.
Harbaugh said both players would receive MRIs on Sunday. He then provided his unsolicited take on the NFL’s four-game preseason.
“Maybe it’s more games than we need,” he said. “Fewer preseason games and bigger rosters — that’s good for everybody.”
Harbaugh said the league’s coaches don’t need the games to get their teams prepared for the regular season.
“We can find ways to get our guys ready to go and evaluated without the risk the game necessarily entails,” he said.
Asked how many preseason games he would like to see, Harbaugh said: “If I had my druthers, I’d go none. That would be my thing.”
Underscoring the notion that results in the preseason mean nothing, Lions running back Ameer Abdullah said, “I’ll start caring about winning when they keep score.”
The game did have some positives for Baltimore, most notably Flacco’s return from knee surgery.
He took the Ravens (3-0) to a field goal in their opening possession and played in one more series, ending his performance by misfiring on a fourth-down pass from the Detroit 43.
Suggs, meanwhile, participated in his first game since tearing his Achilles tendon in the season opener last year. He made two tackles.
The Ravens signed Watson as a free agent in March, hoping he would become one of Flacco’s prime options this season. That plan ended when the 35-year-old appeared to trip while running a pattern and slumped to the turf.
Beset by injuries while going 5-11 last season, the Ravens hoped this season would be different. But their lengthy injury list includes three tight ends: Watson, Dennis Pitta and Maxx Williams. In addition, Nick Boyle will miss the first 10 weeks for violating the league’s drug policy.
With Watson out, Flacco turned his attention toward wide receiver Mike Wallace, signed as a free agent during the offseason. Wallace was targeted six times, catching three for 37 yards.
Matthew Stafford played the first half for Detroit (1-2), completing 14 of 23 passes for 95 yards. He threw an interception and did not produce a touchdown.
“We couldn’t make plays down the field when we had the chances, then when we made plays, we hurt ourselves with penalties,” Stafford said.
Lions: Abdullah on the offense: “A lot of this stuff was self-inflicted. It’s not like they were coming in and imposing their will. There were a lot of penalties (nine) and that’s what killed us.”
Ravens: Flacco on his performance: “I was a little quick on a couple of things, but it felt great to be back out there.”
Lions: Devon Bell misfired badly on a 42-yard field-goal try, but rebounded to hit one from 33 yards. Veteran Matt Prater, on the other hand, kicked a 60-yarder to end the first half.
Ravens: Top draft pick Ronnie Stanley remains a fixture at left tackle. He started next to fellow rookie Alex Lewis, who played left guard for the injured John Urschel (contusion).
Lions: Undrafted rookie TE Cole Wick had mixed results in his effort to impress at a position beset by injuries. He had two catches for 20 yards, but was called for holding on a touchdown run.
Ravens: With Dixon out, Terrance West appears poised to be the backup behind Justin Forsett. He gained 43 yards rushing compared to 15 for Javorius Allen.
Standout defensive end Haloti Ngata faced the Ravens for the first time since being traded from Baltimore to Detroit last season. He had three tackles and a sack.