Ravens Boost Confidence In Blowout


After five straight nail-biting wins by Baltimore, Sunday's game was hardly ever in question.

Images of quarterback Joe Flacco on the sideline for the entire fourth quarter accompanied by safety Ed Reed in sweatpants told the whole story.

In their first complete game since a Week 1 blowout of the Cincinnati Bengals, the Ravens proved themselves with a 55-20 thumping of the Oakland Raiders Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

Baltimore's 55 points is the most in franchise single-game history.

Baltimore (7-2) was in need of a dominant performance. The legitimacy of its record was question and its faults were nitpicked.

The Ravens sweated* *it out twice against Cleveland. Baltimore beat New England on a field goal in the final seconds, gritted out a three-point win in Kansas City and narrowly escaped against Dallas.

But there was nothing ugly about Sunday's game, which was essentially sealed in the third quarter on a surprising colossal touchdown spike by punter Sam Koch after a fake field goal attempt.

Perhaps more importantly, the win gives Baltimore an injection of confidence heading into a critical three-game stretch that will feature two games against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers and a cross-country trip to San Diego sandwiched in between.

"It's a confidence booster on all ends," running back Ray Rice said.

"Momentum helps," Head Coach John Harbaugh added. "Confidence is a good thing. You could talk about confidence, but confidence is really built by playing well, right?"

The Ravens played well from the jump.

Injured linebacker Ray Lewis gave the pregame speech for the first time since tearing his triceps, and implored his teammates to "dominate" at home. They did just that.

The offense, which has been under the microscope over the past month, posted 419 total yards and didn't punt until the third quarter. There were no droughts.

Flacco, who hadn't thrown for more than 250 yards since Week 4, finished 21-of-33 for 341 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also ran in another score.

The passing offense came alive behind the tight ends, from whom* *Harbaugh said he wanted to see more production this week. Dennis Pitta had five catches for 67 yards and a touchdown and Ed Dickson notched two grabs for 59 yards.

Flacco hit Dickson for a 40-yard gain down the seam in the first quarter, then put the Ravens up 10-0 by sneaking into the end zone.

Then the Ravens went up 17-3 on a 5-yard pass to a leaping Pitta. A 47-yard pass to third wide receiver Jacoby Jones and a 19-yarder to Dickson put the Ravens in position.

While the Ravens didn't run the ball effectively or often (2.8 yards per rush on 28 total carries), the passing game came alive and had contributions from up and down the lineup.

"We know what kind of football team we have," Pitta said. "We're confident in the guys that are in this locker room. Whether we win big or we win ugly, we're 7-2 right now. So people can say what they want to say, but we feel good about where we're at."

Wide receiver Torrey Smith dashed by the Raiders in the third quarter and had two catches for two touchdowns of 47 and 20 yards. He said he felt he could have had two more scores.

The Ravens were feeling so good about themselves that they ran a fake field goal near the end of the third quarter. Koch weaved his way seven yards to the end zone to give the Ravens a 31-point lead with five minutes, 40 seconds left in the third quarter.

Jones put the icing on the cake with a 105-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter, his second kickoff return for a touchdown this season.

Jones became the only player in NFL history with two career kickoff returns for touchdowns of at least 105 yards – and they both came within a four-game stretch. He had a 108-yard return against Dallas.

"Anytime you can get a win it's a blessing in itself," Smith said. "To have the whole team play the way it did in all three phases of the game, I think it's a positive sign."

The Ravens' blowout win allowed defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and cornerback Jimmy Smith to completely rest despite being active. Smith couldn't loosen up his groin muscles, and the Ravens wanted to get Ngata as healthy as possible before two games against the Steelers in the next three weeks.

That's where the Ravens will now turn their focus. And they'll do it on the heels of an impressive victory.

"This is the game that we've known is on the schedule, they've known it's on the schedule, and we're excited to go play this game," Harbaugh said. "We feel like we're in the position where we wanted to be to play."

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