Joe Flacco threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns, Ed Reed took an interception 34 yards for a score, and the Ravens rolled to a 44-13 victory Monday night to extend their home winning streak to 11 games.
Flacco and the offense worked this summer on running plays without a huddle, and when it came time to put the new scheme into action, the results were almost flawless. The Ravens amassed 430 yards, didn’t commit a turnover and punted only twice.
“That tempo really helped us out because those guys can really get to the passer and really create a lot of pressure,” Flacco said. “I think the fact that we were able to go up-tempo and kind of keep those guys on the field took its toll on them.”
|Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice (center) celebrates his touchdown with teammates on Monday. (AP-Yonhap News)|
After letting an early 14-point lead dwindle to 17-13, the Ravens pulled away by scoring 24 straight points in just over six minutes. Ray Rice ran for 68 yards and two short scores, but instead of dominating the Baltimore attack in his usual fashion, the running back took a back seat to Flacco.
“Obviously, everything went pretty well for us tonight,” Flacco said.
Not so for the Bengals, who made the playoffs last year without beating a team that qualified for postseason play. In this one, Cincinnati once again came up short against a high-caliber opponent.
“That certainly wasn’t what we expected to have out there today,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “We got outplayed and we got outcoached.”
Although the 44 points were only 11 fewer than the Ravens mustered in two games against Cincinnati last year, Lewis insisted Baltimore’s no-huddle attack wasn’t the difference.
“I wish I could say it was the no-huddle,” he said. “I think it’s an effective thing for them, and it’s something they’ll continue to do, but I don’t think it really bothered us.”
The loss sure did.
“They just outplayed us,” defensive tackle Domata Peko said. “They just beat us today, and we’ve got to get better.”
Flacco watched the final eight minutes of the blowout on the sideline after going 21 for 29 in Baltimore’s ninth consecutive victory in the AFC North. The Ravens were the only team in the division to win an opener.
And while the offense certainly was impressive, Baltimore’s defense also excelled in its first game under coordinator Dean Pees. Playing without injured NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs ― who had 14 sacks last year ― the Ravens dropped Andy Dalton four times.
Not only that, but Baltimore turned two turnovers into touchdowns over a two-minute span. After Reed’s touchdown return, 37-year-old linebacker Ray Lewis forced a fumble that was recovered by Lardarius Webb, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Rice to make it 41-13 with 13:41 remaining.
Chargers 22, Raiders 14
OAKLAND, California (AP) ― Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers capitalized on their opponent’s mistakes instead of making errors of their own.
Rivers threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Malcom Floyd and Nate Kaeding kicked five field goals to spoil Dennis Allen’s debut as Oakland coach by beating the Raiders 22-14 on Monday night.
The Raiders were looking to start a new era on a positive note but were done in by an offense that couldn’t score a touchdown until the final minute and three botched punts after an injury to Pro Bowl long snapper Jon Condo.
The Chargers did enough to win on a night they started undrafted rookie Mike Harris at left tackle and were missing starting running back Ryan Mathews and receiver Vincent Brown to injuries.
San Diego protected Harris by throwing short often with 16 of Rivers’ 24 completions going to running backs and tight ends. Rivers threw for 231 yards, but was sacked just once and did not turn the ball over after having 20 interceptions a year ago.