The only thing hotter than the Florida sun Sunday afternoon was Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense.
Flacco had a historically impressive performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Ravens dominated every facet of the game in the 48-17 victory at Raymond James Stadium to move to 4-2 on the season.
"It was definitely a fun day," Flacco said. "You don't get those too often in this league. It was pretty crazy."
Flacco was as good as he's been all season – and maybe as good as he's ever been – as he threw touchdown passes on Baltimore's first five drives of the game.
He hit Torrey Smith with a pair of touchdowns on the first two drives, and then connected with wide receivers Kamar Aiken and Michael Campanaro for their first career scores. Veteran receiver Steve Smith Sr. then got in the action with a 56-yard touchdown grab.
It was the best start Smith Sr. has ever seen from an offense during his 14-year career.
"Everybody was getting touchdowns," he said. "I think it's good for this game and the next games so that [defenses] can't target or pinpoint one individual. You have to have guys around you making plays."
Midway through the second quarter, Flacco had a career-high five touchdown passes and the Ravens were running away with a lopsided victory.
Flacco's start was historically good.
His five-touchdown effort in the first 16 minutes, three seconds was the fastest any quarterback has thrown for five scores since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970. He also became the NFL's first quarterback to throw five touchdowns in the first half since Tom Brady in 2009.
It all added up to a 38-point first half, which was the most the Ravens have ever scored in the first two quarters of a game.
By the time Flacco came out of the game in the fourth quarter, he had completed 21-of-29 passes for 306 yards and the five touchdowns (the latter tied a franchise record, Tony Banks in 2000). He finished with a franchise-high quarterback rating of 146.0.
Flacco downplayed the significance of his performance, and Smith Sr. even said that Flacco just shrugged his shoulders when Head Coach John Harbaugh rattled off some of the quarterback's numbers in the post-game locker room.
"At the end of the day those are just stats," Flacco said. "That stuff feels good and looks great and all that, but it really doesn't mean anything. It's all about winning football games. That's what we came here to do and that's what we did."
With the offense humming, Flacco spread the wealth to his receivers and tight ends. Flacco connected with eight targets on the day, and every active wide receiver or tight end was targeted at least once.
Steve Smith led all receivers with 110 receiving yards on five catches. Torrey Smith finished with four catches for 51 yards and the two touchdowns. The running game was also effective, as Justin Forsett finished the game with 111 yards on 14 carries.
As good as the offense looked, the defense was just as impressive early. On the Buccaneers' first six drives of the game, the Ravens came up with an interception by cornerback Jimmy Smith and forced four three-and-outs.
The pass rush was relentless on Bucs quarterback Mike Glennon, who was sacked five times and hit 15 times on the day. Several Ravens contributed to the sacks on Glennon, as Terrell Suggs, Brandon Williams, Pernell McPhee, Elvis Dumervil and Daryl Smith all got to him.
"Those guys are our best friends," Jimmy Smith said about the pass rush. "They were back there all day creating havoc."
The game was virtually decided by halftime, when the Ravens led 38-0. Tampa Bay was able to put up 17-points in the second half, but that all came after the Ravens had already built up a significant lead. !(http://www.pntrs.com/t/R0BKSkxES0BLRkhESkBISEtERw)
By the time the teams came out of the locker room in the third quarter, only a handful of Bucs fans remained scattered throughout a mostly empty stadium. Many of the fans who stayed were clad in purple and white, as the Ravens had a large contingency that made the trip south.
At one point, the Ravens' classic "Seven Nation Army" chant even broke out in the stadium.
"We really believe that we have the best fans in the world," said Harbaugh, who thanked and shook hands with those fans after the game.
In the end, Baltimore's 48 total points tied for the second-highest in franchise history in a single game. It also had 48 against the Detroit Lions in 2009 and the Green Bay Packers in 2005.
Sunday's victory was a convincing bounceback from last week's loss to the Colts in Indianapolis. The Ravens are now 2-1 on the road, which already matches their road win total from last season.
After back-to-back games away from Baltimore, the Ravens will now return to M&T Bank Stadium and look to build off Sunday's victory next week in a matchup with the Atlanta Falcons.
"It was all good stuff," Flacco said. "We played pretty well and when we got opportunities, we capitalized."