TAMPA — Rookie quarterback Mike Glennon didn't waste any time showing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers how special he could be Thursday night.
On the first play of his first series under center in an NFL game, the third-round draft pick out of North Carolina State calmly stepped up in the pocket to escape the hands grasping for his ankles and unfurled a long, soft throw over the heads of the Baltimore Ravens defense and into the waiting arms of tight end Tom Crabtree, who turned the catch into a 61-yard reception and a Bucs scoring chance.
For both Glennon and the Bucs, though, it was all pretty much downhill after that.
On a night when cornerback Darrelle Revis was among six projected starters who didn't dress for game, the Bucs started strong but slowly fell victim to a morass of mistakes that allowed the Super Bowl champion Ravens to leave Raymond James Stadium with a 44-16 win in the first preseason game for both teams.
Few played to that pattern as much as Glennon.
With the exception of a 41-yard pass to Chris Owusu that closed out the first half, Glennon largely struggled after making that initial throw, completing 11 of 23 passes overall for 169 yards, no touchdowns and an interception.
“I thought Mike Glennon handled himself with really good poise,” Bucs coach Greg Schiano said. “The one interception, it was a good throw, it was the wrong route. You have to throw that route before it breaks, so it looked awful because it was awful, but that was not on him.
“For his first time out, it didn't look too big for him.”
On this night, Glennon had plenty of company. A muffed punt return by Owusu and a blocked Chas Henry punt in the end zone led to a pair of first-half Ravens touchdowns.
Baltimore also produced a fourth-quarter field goal and touchdown off turnovers by fourth-team quarterback Adam Weber, who had his first two throws of the game intercepted.
“(We led) 6-0 there at the end of the first quarter. Certainly it got sloppy there after that. We've got a long way to go as a football team. The good news is we have three games left to get better,” Schiano said.
Not that it was all bad for the Bucs. Rookie kicker Derek Dimke helped turn Glennon's 61-yard toss into points with a 35-yard field goal, one of three he kicked in the game.
The defense got off to a good start, as well, generating a sack of quarterback Joe Flacco by linebacker Lavonte David and an interception of Flacco by cornerback Danny Gorrer during the Ravens' first offensive series.
“That was a good way to start the game, by making a play and getting the defense off the field,'' Schiano said. “That was good.''
Those two plays helped the first-team offense get off to a good start, as well. Starting quarterback Josh Freeman drove the Bucs 56 yards for their first score, a 29-yard Dimke field goal.
“The reason for the preseason is tuning up,'' said Freeman, who completed four of seven passes for 34 yards during two series. “We talked about coming out and playing physical and not turning the ball over as an offense.
“That was one of our main goals. And then just the whole procedure, whether it's breaking the huddle, substituting — a lot of different things. I thought it was an effective day.''
It was for some. Backup running back candidate Brian Leonard ran six times for 23 yards and a touchdown, including 13 yards on a first-and-10 play that helped the Bucs take a 3-0 lead on their second series.
Leonard also threw a key block during that series, picking up a blitzing Chykie Brown in the backfield and allowing Freeman to get off a 22-yard pass to Kevin Ogletree.
Sparked by Glennon's 61-yard passing play to Crabtree, which started with Tampa Bay backed up at its 6-yard line, the Bucs improved their lead to 6-0 on their next series. That drive stalled when Glennon had a ball batted down behind the line and threw short for Owusu downfield. Dimke salvaged the effort with his 35-yard field goal.
The Bucs lost that lead midway though the second quarter by giving the ball away on a fumbled punt return by Owusu at Tampa Bay's 20-yard line.
The Ravens needed one play to regain the edge as running back Bernard Pierce ran through the line and beat linebacker Jonathan Casillas to the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown.
The Bucs came right back, and taking advantage of a pass interference penalty drawn by Owusu at the Ravens' 5-yard line, took a 13-7 lead on a 3-yard rumble into the end zone by Leonard with 5:25 left in the half.
The Ravens cut their deficit to 13-10 when Justin Tucker hit a 43-yard field goal with 3:26 to play and took a 17-13 lead when Anthony Allen scored a 2-yard touchdown with 34 seconds left in the half.
The Bucs chose to play for a score after getting the ball back with 29 seconds to play in the half, but two Glennon incompletions and a sack at Tampa Bay's 11-yard line set the stage for LaQuan Willimas' recovery in the end zone of Henry's blocked punt.
“I've been in this league before,” Schiano said. “Even after we won our first preseason game last year, I had no visions of grandeur, so neither am I going to go ballistic about tonight. There will be some good things on that tape.”