OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens returned to form in record-breaking fashion, using their second blowout in three games to obliterate the memory of a puzzling defeat one week earlier.
The St. Louis Rams had the misfortune of being next on Baltimore’s schedule after the Ravens followed a season-opening
35-7 rout of the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 26-13 loss to the rebuilding Tennessee Titans.
Baltimore raced to 21-0 lead in the first quarter against the Rams on Sunday and amassed a franchise-record 533 yards in offense in a 37-7 victory. Since John Harbaugh took over as coach before the 2008 season, the Ravens have won 13 of 17 — including nine straight — following a defeat.
Asked Monday if he anticipated an inspired performance from his team, Harbaugh shook his head.
“It’s so hard to judge that,” he said. “I’d like to be able to say that you can get a feel for that, but I felt like our guys
were very ready to play against Tennessee and we didn’t play well.”
So what happened against the Rams?
“What’s the reason? Hard to say,” Harbaugh said.
Wide receiver Anquan Boldin had the answer.
“We wanted to come out and make a statement,” he said. “We wanted to start fast. I know defense was talking about getting some three and outs and not letting them convert on third down. Offense, we just wanted to stay on the field — and we did that.”
If the Ravens can do that Sunday night against the New York Jets, they will reach their bye week at 3-1 and be no worse than tied for the lead in the AFC North.
Baltimore received plenty of acclaim after its win over the defending AFC champion Steelers, but its dud against the Titans left open the possibility that perhaps the Ravens were a bit overrated.
Then came the Rams.
Although St. Louis is not very good, 30-point wins on the road in the NFL are a rarity. Not only did Baltimore show its ability to bounce back, but it also displayed the depth needed to make a playoff run.
Injured receiver Lee Evans was replaced in the starting lineup by rookie Torrey Smith, who caught five passes for 152 yards and three touchdowns. Besides Boldin, the Ravens didn’t have a wide receiver who had previously caught a pass in the NFL. Although overshadowed by Smith, rookie LaQuan Williams notched his first reception as a pro and was solid blocking downfield.
And because the Rams were ready to stop running back Ray Rice, Joe Flacco went 27 for 48 for a career-high 389 yards and three scores.
“You want to be able to stretch the field vertically, which is something we really wanted to be able to do coming into this
year,” Harbaugh said. “To see that happen is a big plus for us. They were defending the run, so all we had to do was beat those guys 1-on-1.”
Flacco couldn’t have been happier.
“We came out and we attacked today,” he said after the game. “I always think to myself, look at the top teams in this league. What are they? They’re passing teams. Can they run the ball? Yeah, but, they really throw the ball very well and run the ball off of that.”
Harbaugh has no problem with that. What coach wouldn’t want to see his quarterback throw three touchdown passes in the first quarter?
“If you’ve got aspirations to win a championship, you’ve got to be able to attack people in every kind of different way,” Harbaugh said. “But that’s not to say we we’re not going to run the ball. We pride ourselves in that, too.”
So, after three games, just how good are the Ravens? Should they be judged by their performance against Pittsburgh and St. Louis, or the one against the Titans? The answer is to be determined.
“I’d like to say we’re good,” Rice said, “but we’re not done yet.”
Notes: Ravens S Haruki Nakamura, who sustained ligament damage in his right knee Sunday, could be out a month, Harbaugh said. … The status of Evans (ankle) and CB Domonique Foxworth (knee), who both missed Sunday’s game, will be determined later in the week. … The NFL has adjusted the stats of Sunday’s game. Flacco was inadvertently credited with a third-quarter run by Rice, so Rice will have nine carries for 81 yards and Flacco will have eight attempts for 27 yards.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)