The Ravens defense was typically stingy in a 38-24 win over the Kansas City Chiefs, but it was the offense that wowed fans at a packed M&T Bank Stadium on Sunday.
Behind a prolific offense, the Ravens racked up 501 total yards, setting a franchise high that bested the 479 amassed on Nov. 19, 2000.
Kansas City could only muster 188 yards of total offense, with 50 of them coming on a single connection from quarterback Brodie Croyle and wideout Mark Bradley, and 11 first downs, only three of which were in the first half.
And, the Chiefs' biggest play spanned 70 yards on an interception return deep into Baltimore territory.
How, then, did the Chiefs stay in contention until Willis McGahee crossed the goal line with 38 seconds left?
"The Chiefs, in that game, took advantage of every opportunity, especially in the first half, and made the most of it" said head coach John Harbaugh. "They scored seven points each time they had the opportunity to do it. We didn't take advantage of every opportunity."
The Ravens simply kept fighting back rookie head coach Todd Haley's team. Three times, the Chiefs either tied the game or took the lead, and all three times, Baltimore responded.
The resiliency was largely due to the offensive outburst.
Joe Flacco opened his 2009 campaign by spraying the football all over the field, finding seven different receivers in a 26-for-43, 307-yard and three-touchdown afternoon. It was the best day of Flacco's young career, as he set personal highs in attempts, yards and touchdowns.
In addition, Ray Rice ran for 108 yards, Willis McGahee scored on a catch and a run, and Todd Heap and Mark Clayton both topped 70 receiving yards.
"I think we have the playmakers," said Heap, who finished with five receptions for 74 yards and a touchdown. "Every time there was a challenge placed in front of us, every time we had to go make something happen, we did. We kept fighting, kept driving the ball down and got points when we needed them."
Coming off a season where the Ravens boasted the league's fourth-best rushing attack, coordinator Cam Cameron implemented a pass-heavy gameplan.
On the Ravens' first drive of the game, Flacco began with a 4-yard rush, but then threw five consecutive times to march within range of a 44-yard field goal from Steve Hauschka.
He followed that by completing 6 of 7 attempts on the ensuing series, capping a 70-yard drive with a 3-yard scoring pass to Willis McGahee.
Flacco got the Ravens into Hauschka's range again in the third quarter with a 17-yard completion to Heap and a 16-yarder to Clayton, but Hauschka missed to the left from 41 yards.
"This is a new year, a new offense, a new mentality," Clayton stated. "Everything starts over. We are remaking ourselves to be able to throw the ball down the field. It's fun, one, and it puts points on the board, two. The last time I checked, the team with the most points on that board wins. Our goal is to score every time."
A smattering of Ravens miscues kept Kansas City close, however.
The Chiefs initially got on the scoreboard when veteran safety Jon McGraw knifed up the middle to block a Sam Koch punt in the end zone for a touchdown.
Flacco paid in the third quarter for repeatedly challenging the middle of the field when linebacker Derrick Johnson made a bobbling interception and then sprinted 70 yards to the Ravens' 6-yard line. Three snaps later, Croyle found Dwayne Bowe in the back of the end zone to give the Chiefs a 14-10 lead.
Later, Croyle lofted a beautiful pass to Bradley, who made a tough catch one step past cornerback Fabian Washington on the Ravens' 16-yard line.
That set up Ryan Succop's game-tying 53-yard field goal.
The Ravens took yet another lead on a nine-play, 76-yard march to paydirt.
Flacco hit tight end Todd Heap for 24 yards, and running back Ray Rice went around the right end for 22 yards. Fullback Le'Ron McClain did the mop-up job when he rumbled up the middle for the score.
Kansas City again tied the contest with a methodical fourth-quarter drive, where Croyle went 5-of-6 for 65 yards, including a 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Sean Ryan.
Still, the Ravens were able to deal the final blow with Flacco's 31-yard touchdown pass to Mark Clayton at the 2:06 mark and McGahee's second touchdown of the day with 31 seconds remaining.
"This is what we expected coming out for the first game," Rice said. "Emotions are running high, each team is playing hard. This is what you want to face early, so when it comes later in the year, this is stuff that we've already been through. This is one we can already put in the bank.
"We fought through it, and we persevered as a team."
Note:Ravens linebacker Tavares Gooden left with a knee sprain, but it is not expected to be serious. Safety Tom Zbikowski suffered a concussion in the first half and did not return to action.