Backup quarterback Matt Schaub's preseason debut offered something for both his biggest supporters and most ardent critics Thursday night.
His three straight scoring drives in the first half, in which Schaub fit the ball into tight spaces and challenged both himself and his receivers to make a play, showed the experience and talent that has led coach John Harbaugh to defend him all training camp as a viable backup quarterback.
And the interception that opened the second half — when Schaub stared down receiver Jeremy Butler, saw him covered, then hesitated and threw to him anyway — resembled the frustrating interceptions that have cropped up all preseason and cost the former Pro Bowl quarterback his starting jobs in 2013 and 2014 with the Houston Texans and Oakland Raiders.
"I thought he played well," Harbaugh said. "The one miscue, he probably could have had a little more help in terms of the receiver coming back from the football. That's a young guy who's going to learn that. … But he played really well and kind of proved himself, which is nice to see."
Said Schaub: "I'm feeling really good about where I am."
On Tuesday, after the final practice before his Ravens debut, Schaub spoke of just wanting to shepherd the young offensive line and skill-position players.
When he relieved starter Joe Flacco after the first-team offense's 16-play, 80-yard touchdown drive, Schaub did just that, and temporarily showed the concerns over his camp performance were overblown.
His first attempt flew over tight end Crockett Gillmore's head on the sideline, and an offside penalty extended the drive.
Schaub's first completion found Gillmore over the middle, and on the next play he lobbed a pass down the Ravens sideline that Butler had a play on but couldn't catch.
But on the ensuing third down, second-year wide receiver Michael Campanaro (River Hill) slipped across the Saints' zone coverage and Schaub hit him in stride for a 45-yard catch-and-run touchdown.
Schaub continued to be efficient and protect the football, highlighted by a well-spotted third-down pass to rookie receiver Darren Waller into tight coverage on Schaub's second drive.
That eight-play drive ended in a field goal, and Schaub's third drive would have ended with a touchdown had a perfectly placed pass been corralled by rookie tight end Maxx Williams.
Instead, the Ravens settled for another field goal, and Schaub kneeled twice to end the first half.
Schaub rebounded after the interception to open the second half to complete four of his last five passes, ending the game 11-of-18 for 134 yards, a touchdown, and one interception, good for a 79.4 passer rating.
"There's plenty of ways we can get better in every phase, and we're really going to look at it hard, going to come out, get better as this next week progresses going into Philadelphia," Schaub said. "For the first night out, it's good to win, and I think every group really played well."