BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens showed they can still win games with their defense.
Elvis Dumervil and Pernell McPhee each had two sacks, and Baltimore harassed Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan in a 29-7 victory Sunday.
One week after scoring 48 points in a victory at Tampa Bay, the Ravens (5-2) built a 17-0 halftime lead in their second straight blowout.
The Falcons (2-5) averted their first shutout loss since December 2004 when Ryan connected with Roddy White for a 4-yard touchdown with 7:12 remaining to make it 20-7. It was Atlanta’s first fourth-quarter score in five games.
Terrell Suggs sacked Ryan for a safety with 3:39 left and Joe Flacco threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Torrey Smith on a fourth-and-9 to seal Baltimore’s fourth win in five games.
The Ravens allowed only four first downs in the pivotal first half and finished with five sacks in dealing the Falcons their fourth straight defeat.
It was just like old times for a Baltimore defense that shined for years with Ray Lewis in the middle and Ed Reed at safety.
Flacco went 16 for 25 for 258 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions — both by Robert Alford. Justin Forsett gained 95 yards on 23 carries.
Ryan completed 29 of 44 passes for 228 yards and lost a fumble. He got little help from a running game that generated only 68 yards.
After outgaining the Falcons 175-61 in the first half, Baltimore continued the pressure in its opening possession of the third quarter. Flacco connected with Steve Smith for a 49-yard completion to set up a 38-yard field goal by Justin Tucker for a 20-0 lead.
The Ravens then kept the ball on the ground for the most part, content in allowing the defense to protect the advantage.
A first half marred by three turnovers and 10 penalties — including three holding infractions against Baltimore rookie left tackle James Hurst — ended with the Ravens scoring twice in the final 2 minutes, 38 seconds.
Baltimore moved 52 yards for a touchdown on its opening possession with help from the Falcons. Following a 36-yard pass interference call against Alford, tight end Owen Daniels caught a 5-yard touchdown pass.
After going three-and-out on its first two possessions, Atlanta and moved to the Baltimore 17 before Ryan lost a fumble when sacked by McPhee.
Flacco gave it back, lofting a pass into the end zone that was intercepted by Alford.
Late in the half, Baltimore took over at its 41 and Hurst committed another holding penalty. Flacco completed a 19-yarder to Daniels on the next play and added a 20-yard toss to Torrey Smith before Bernard Pierce ran in from the 1.
A fumbled punt by Baltimore’s Jacoby Jones gave Atlanta the ball at the Baltimore 37 with 59 seconds to go, but a sack forced the Falcons to try a 57-yard field goal. The kick by Matt Bryant hit the crossbar, and the Ravens quickly moved the other way for a 38-yard field goal on the final play of the half.
AP NFL website: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP–NFL
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)