This wasn’t a win for the offense, the defense or the special teams, but for all three.
For the first time since Week 1, the Ravens won comfortably with all three areas of their team deserving credit.
The offense put up 419 yards, including 341 through the air. The defense contributed two turnovers, three sacks and six tackles in the backfield, six tipped balls and held the Raiders to 20 points. Special teams contributed 14 points and a recovered fumble that set up another score.
That all came together to send the Ravens to a record-setting 55-20 victory over Oakland that improved their record to 7-2. Baltimore scored the most points of any team in the league this season, and in the process set a team record for most points in a single game.
“All three phases played exceptionally well, made plays,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Just real pleased with the way we played today and the way we finished. I thought we started fast, we finished well, and we played pretty good in between, which we haven’t always done. So that’s a good step in the right direction.”
In a pretty odd quirk, the Ravens were actually outgained in this contest. The Raiders finished with 422 yards to Baltimore’s 419, which might come as a bit of a surprise considering the score.
But the reason was the Ravens were more opportunistic than prolific on offense. They had their share of swift, yard-gaining drives. But because of the turnovers and the contributions from special teams, Baltimore didn’t need to reach 600 yards to score 55 points.
Quarterback Joe Flacco had a heck of a game, going 21-for-33 for 341 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, as well as a rushing score. He led five offensive possessions that lasted 3 minutes, 4 seconds or less and resulted in a touchdown, one of which was set up by a muffed punt deep in Oakland territory.
But he had drives of 2:13, 1:13 and 1:18 that each covered at least 70 yards and ended with seven points on the board. Most of that was produced by Flacco and the passing game.
“I think we just came out from the beginning and we were able to do it just like we have been when we do those kind of things. We kept the momentum from there,” Flacco said. “We had success. We ran the game plan, and it worked well. We stuck with it. We scored points early and continued to score them. ... I think we were able to wear them out a little bit as the game went on and that’s why we were able to succeed late, too.”
On the receiving end of Flacco’s strong showing were eight different receivers, led by the team’s pair of tight ends, Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson, who combined for seven catches, 126 yards and a touchdown. Torrey Smith added two touchdown receptions covering 67 yards and accounting for his only catches of the day.
Anquan Boldin added four grabs for 38 yards and Ray Rice had four catches for 33 yards to go with his 35 rushing yards and a touchdown. Rice reached a pair of milestones, surpassing 5,000 career rushing yards and 2,500 career receiving yards - pretty fitting he accomplished both on the same day.
So there’s no belittling the performance of a Ravens offense which has struggled away from home, but looks like a dynamo at M&T Bank Stadium.
Just to remind everyone of the difference, the Ravens are averaging 36.8 points in going 5-0 at home this year while averaging 17.5 per game in going 2-2 on the road.
Center Matt Birk said the explanation is simple.
“We’re at home. On Saturday night, my wife always makes spaghetti and meatballs, homemade sauce and we don’t lose when we have spaghetti and meatballs on Saturday,” he said. “So there you have it.”
In all seriousness, though, this is starting to seem like the inverse of the Orioles’ Sunday losing streak from a few years ago. It has to be partially mental at this point, increasing the team’s confidence and thus resulting in much more impressive offensive performances in front of the home fans.
Either way, the Ravens will take it.