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Ravens' offense bounces back in huge road win against Raiders

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Ravens' offense bounces back in huge road win against Raiders

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Mike Wallace got excited as soon as he saw the script, knowing he'd have an early chance to deliver the big passing play that has been missing too often this season for Baltimore.

Wallace caught a tone-setting 52-yard pass from Joe Flacco on the first play from scrimmage to set up an early touchdown for the Ravens, and Jimmy Smith added a fumble return for a score on the next drive that helped fuel Baltimore's 30-17 victory over the short-handed Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

"I just knew last night when I saw this play call, if we get this play I knew it would be on me to start the game off," Wallace said. "It was going to be a snowball effect. I just had thoughts like that last night. Then we came out and caught them on the first play. Wish I would have scored."

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That pass set up tight end Vince Mayle's 2-yard touchdown run on an end-around and the Ravens (3-2) got going after being held scoreless in losses the past two weeks.

Flacco had struggled to get the ball downfield against Jacksonville and Pittsburgh, averaging less than 4 yards an attempt those games. But the early deep ball to Wallace helped open things up and the two connected later on a 54-yard pass and a 27-yarder, equaling the team's season total of 20-yard pass plays in the previous four weeks.

"It definitely feels good to let the ball go down the field and let Mike go get one," Flacco said. "You can see it on his face, when he starts getting involved, how much he gets revved up and how much it helps our offense."

The Raiders (2-3), playing without injured star quarterback Derek Carr and two key cornerbacks, played from behind all game as Smith returned Jared Cook's fumble 47 yards for a touchdown that made it 14-0 just 3:50 in.

Backup quarterback E.J. Manuel , making his fourth start in the past three seasons, threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree and led another TD drive that ended in Marshawn Lynch's 3-yard run . He finished 13 for 26 for 159 yards.

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But that wasn't nearly enough for the Raiders, who have dropped three straight following a 2-0 start, putting a severe dent in their hopes to challenge in the AFC West.

"It's a big shock to start the season off this way," running back Jalen Richard said. "I don't even know what to say. It's like a bad shock. We just keep getting whooped. It's just going to come down to when (are) we going to get tired of getting whooped."

The Ravens had also lost two in a row following a 2-0 start, but reversed that slide thanks to Flacco and the opportunistic defense. Flacco completed 19 of 26 passes for 222 yards.

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Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst

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USA TODAY Sports

Ravens agree to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst

The Ravens have their entire 2018 draft class locked up.

The team agreed to terms with first-round pick Hayden Hurst, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Hurst's rookie contract - like all first-round picks - is a four-year deal with a team option of a fifth year. According to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the 25th overall pick is due $11.1 million. 

The 24-year old, who was a walk on at South Carolina at 21-years old after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012, finished his three-year career with 100 receptions, 1,281 yards and three touchdowns.

Standing at 6-foot-3, Hurst will be a nice addition to the TE corps with Nick Boyle and third-round draft pick Mark Andrews. 

Fellow first-round pick Lamar Jackson signed his rookie contract on June 5th.

Training camp kicks off for the Ravens July 19th. 

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

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Ravens experimenting with getting Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson on field at same time

Since drafting Lamar Jackson, the Ravens have made it clear that Joe Flacco is their starter. That doesn't mean they're not experimenting with having them both on the field at the same time, however. 

During this week's minicamp, the team has been lining Jackson up at multiple positions. 

"Gosh, I sure like him out there helping us," coach John Harbaugh said of Jackson during Tuesday's minicamp, via ESPN.com.

"If you put two quarterbacks on the field at once, what options does it create for our offense? That's what we're trying to figure out."

While at Louisville, Jackson rushed for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns in three seasons. That's more rushing yards than No. 2 overall pick Saquon Barkley. That unique skill set could be the creative options the Ravens are looking for. 

While at the NFL Combine, however, Jackson refused to workout at any other position than QB. 

"I have a lot of fun seeing what they come up with and what they're going to come up with next," Jackson said. "We'll see where it goes. You have to use your good players."

The Ravens are already viewing Jackson as one of those 'good players.' 

"Once he gets out of the pocket, it's like watching a young Michael Vick," LB C.J. Mosley said after minicamp practice. "It's amazing to watch. When you're defending him, you just have to act like you're tagging off -- you don't want to be on the highlight reel."

Harbaugh has alluded to the fact that the rookie will be active on game days, just exactly how they get the most out of him is what's in play.

"There's a lot of considerations that go into that," Harbaugh said of using two QBs at the once. "Everybody has an opinion. I've read a few. You want to find a way to get the most out of all your guys."

While Flacco isn't the fasted QB in the league, he has shown glimpses of running ability in the past. Figuring out how to utilize Flacco when Jackson is under center is where things will get interesting.

Interesting - as long as it works - is what Ravens fans have been searching for over the last several seasons. 

"Joe has to be able to do other things if [Jackson is] throwing the ball," Harbaugh said. "It gets the creative juices flowing for our offensive coaches, and they've worked hard on that."

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