Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ravens Crush Bengals in Season Opener

6x Pro Bowler Matt Birk (77) directs Ravens O-line vs. Bengals

"Pay him. Pay that man his money." John Malkovich's famous line from Rounders should be playing in the heads of Ravens' management after Joe Flacco's impressive performance in the Baltimore Ravens' 44-13 thrashing of the Cincinnati Bengals last night at M&T Bank Stadium. Baltimore's new favorite son tossed for 299 yards and two touchdowns to lead a new-look, no-huddle offense to victory in their home opener before an elated crowd of 71,064.

The Jim Caldwell era (Caldwell was brought in to serve as Quarterbacks coach after a three-year run as Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts) began with a bang, as the Ravens moved at will against last season's 7th ranked defense. Pro Bowl RB Ray Rice rushed for 68 yards and 2 TDs on just 10 carries, adding 25 receiving yards on 3 receptions. TE Dennis Pitta led all Ravens' receivers with 73 yards on 5 catches, including an acrobatic TD grab in the third quarter that put Baltimore ahead 24-13.

Baltimore normally wins on defense, and the Ravens D was in mid-season form, accounting for four sacks, two turnovers and a score. Perennial Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed set an NFL record for most career interception yardage after returning an Andy Dalton pass 34 yards for a touchdown with just 13 seconds left in the third quarter. Not to be outdone, LB Ray Lewis showed why 37 is the new 17, forcing a fumble in addition to a team-leading 14 tackles (including a sack.)

Baltimore travels to Philadelphia to play the Eagles next Sunday, before returning to M&T on September 23rd to host New England in a rematch of last year's AFC Championship thriller. Can a Super Bowl be far behind?

Click here for box score.