Ravens 44, Bengals 13
Joe Flacco has the offense on a fast track with the hurry-up offense, and Cincinnati simply got run out of M&T Bank Stadium on Monday night.
The Ravens were too creative and explosive as they made it three consecutive wins vs. their AFC North foe, dating to last season, in the opener for both.
Flacco opened with a 52-yard completion to start the game to Torrey Smith. It resulted in just a field goal by Justin Tucker, but the Ravens would grow that to a 17-3 lead in the second quarter and never look back.
The Ravens took 5:45 to score their first touchdown on a seven-yard run by Ray Rice, then drove 82 yards in 2:27 for a 34-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin in the second quarter and 89 yards in 3:41 for a 10-yard touchdown pass by tight end Dennis Pitta to open the third quarter.
True to his word, coach John Harbaugh mixed it up. They faked a reverse, threw deep, got Rice out of the backfield as a receiver. Flacco completed passes to seven different receivers.
As the Bengals tried to mount a comeback in the second half, the Ravens defense asserted itself as they pressured Andy Dalton. He was forced into an interception that was returned 34 yards for a touchdown by Ed Reed. A sack and forced fumble by Ray Lewis was recovered by Lardarius Webb, who also began blitzing from the edge.
Two plays and 28 yards later, Rice ran it into the end zone from a yard for a 41-13 edge.
Dalton was held to 22-for-37 passing for 221 yards, no TDs, one interception and a 65.3 passer rating.
Player of the game: Flacco picked apart the Bengals secondary, passing 21-for-29 for 299 yards, two TDs, no INTs and a 128.4 rating
Turning point: After stalling on the first drive and settling for a field goal, Harbaugh opted to go for it on 4th and 1 from Cincinnatis 21. They got it, and the drive ended with Rices first touchdown, his 30th of his career that moved him into fourth all-time in Ravens history past Derrick Mason, for a 10-0 lead.
Highlights: Smith showed why hes such a threat. On the first play from scrimmage, he caught a 52-yard pass that mightve been a touchdown if he didnt have to wait for it. Pitta had five receptions for 73 yards by the end of the third, which was a career high for yardage. Reed returned an interception, his 58th overall, of Dalton 34 yards for a TD in the third, making him the all-time leader in return yards (1,497) by surpassing Rod Woodson (1,483). Haloti Ngata had two sacks, his third career game with two sacks. Rookie Courtney Upshaw got his first sack in dropping Dalton for a 12-yard loss. He combined with Pernell McPhee as both were credited with half of a sack.
Lowlights: Flacco was sacked three times. BenJarvus Green-Ellis averaged 5.2 yards per carry in the first half and finished with 91 yards on 18 carries. Flacco had several poor throws that easily couldve resulted in three interceptions that couldve turned the outcome of the game early on. Fortunately for him, the Bengals couldnt hold the ball. Rice only had 10 carries.
Surprises: Ramon Harewood started at left guard in place of Bobbie Williams, the veteran who is a former Bengal and expected to start there. As reported over the weekend by CSNBaltimore, rookie Kelechi Osemele started at right tackle while Michael Oher was moved to the right side ahead of veteran Bryant McKinnie.
Replacements: Officials blew two calls in the first quarter. McPhee was drawn in the neutral zone after the offensive line moved, replays showed. That made a 3rd and 7 and more manageable third down and 2 for the Bengals, who went on to convert a field goal. On that same drive, Bengals WR A.J. Green caught a 19-yard pass, controlled it throughout, took several steps as he was tackled to the ground and then the ball came loose. It was ruled incomplete and the Bengals didnt challenge the call. Webb was called for a personal foul for a clean hit on Dalton, hitting him with his shoulder in the lower back as he released the ball.