Things were getting dicey. Two long Bengals drives had the Ravens’ offense sitting on the bench for what felt like a half-hour in real time.
Baltimore’s 17-3 lead had shrunk to 17-13. And then Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and Co. went back to work and reminded everyone why they built such a margin in the first place.
Flacco went 5-for-6 for 74 yards and a touchdown on the Ravens’ first drive of the second half, leading another quick strike - nine plays, 89 yards in 3:41 - to give his team a 24-13 lead.
Flacco ended his latest impressive possession with a 10-yard lofted pass to Dennis Pitta, who went up and got it in the end zone for his third reception of the drive.
Rice had a 19-yard catch and a 13-yard run on successive plays.
And as for a Flacco update: He’s now completed 17 of 22 passes for 256 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He’s had a couple close calls in terms of turnovers, but his teammates have made nice plays to prevent a Cincinnati grab.
Take note that Baltimore has punted once.
Update: Pitta has now made five catches for 73 yards, which is a single-game career high yardage-wise.
And his 25-yard grab on the Ravens’ most recent possession helped set Justin Tucker up for a 40-yard field goal which made it 27-13 late in the third quarter. Baltimore continues to roll.
Instant update: Tack on seven more. Ed Reed picks off Andy Dalton’s overthrow and returns it 34 yards for a touchdown with 13 seconds to go in the third quarter.
Reed’s 34 yards gained on his seventh career interception return for a touchdown (and 14th career touchdown) gave him an NFL record with 1,497 career interception return yards.
Update III: The Ravens have turned another Bengals turnover into seven more points. Ray Lewis forced a fumble by Andy Dalton, and it was recovered by Lardarius Webb. Cincy made another flub with defensive pass interference in the end zone, setting Rice up for an easy 1-yard touchdown run.
So, it’s opening night on Monday Night Football and the Ravens are up 41-13. They’ve outgained Cincy 374-270 and this one’s back on its way to being a rout.
Update IV: Well, that was something. With the nation watching, the Ravens were dominant against a fellow 2011 playoff team, rolling up an impressive 430 yards in a 44-13 romp over the Bengals.
Credit is owed to many. The offense set the tone. The defense limited Cincinnati’s up-and-coming young weapons on offense, and added some points, too. Justin Tucker got the job done with a perfect showing in his kicking debut.
Flacco, Rice and Pitta starred on offense while Haloti Ngata and Reed did the same on defense. Nice start for the Ravens.