Boldin provides the second half spark

In need of a boost after a sloppy first half against the Cardinals, the Ravens turned to a guy who had played seven seasons alongside the Arizona players he was now opposing.

And facing his former team, Anquan Boldin put on a performance that wowed teammates and coaches alike.

"He's a star," said offensive coordinator Cam Cameron after the game.

Boldin sure played like one today. The veteran wide receiver made seven catches for 145 yards this afternoon, and he delivered in a big way in the third quarter, making five grabs for 117 yards in that frame alone, helping rally the Ravens from an 18-point halftime deficit.

He terrorized Cardinals second-year cornerback A.J. Jefferson, making highlight-reel catches, bringing in back-shoulder fades and ripping down passes in traffic. And Boldin seemed to do nearly all of his damage directly in front of the Cardinals' bench, with all of his former teammates watching on.

"Once guys start making catches, and guys start getting a feeling along the lines that we can make plays, I think it really just helps everybody," head coach John Harbaugh said. "Anquan was definitely the catalyst in the whole thing. They had his arm pinned down once or twice, and he still made catches. It was Anquan that got us going from the jump."

Nothing that the Ravens were running with Boldin seemed all that complex. The wideout just ran sharp routes, used his size and strength to outmuscle Arizona's defensive backs and benefitted from some nicely thrown passes from quarterback Joe Flacco.

"They were pretty simple things," Flacco said of his connections with Boldin. "He was able to be big and go up and make some good catches. He ran a little slant-and-go on one, and I hit him in the hole. When you need to make plays, and when you need to score some points, you need to go to the guys you feel confident that they are going to be able to do it for you, and he came up big.

"We felt like we had a good matchup on him also. No. 20 (Jefferson) isn't the biggest guy in there. We were able to go after him a little bit with Anquan."

Even when Boldin wasn't making catches, he was directly involved in the Ravens moving the ball and putting points on the board. All three of the Ravens' touchdowns came one play after Arizona was flagged for interfering with Boldin either in the end zone or near the goal line.

That won't help Boldin's fantasy owners any, but it sure gave the Ravens and their struggling red zone offense a lift.

Given that neither of Arizona's starting cornerbacks - Jefferson and Patrick Peterson - had started a game in the NFL prior to this season, Boldin indicated that the Ravens felt that they could attack that young, inexperienced duo. Even when he did have a defender on him, Boldin still found a way to get his hands on the ball and make plays to get the Ravens out of their funk.

"That's one of the reasons I was brought here," Boldin said. "There's a lot of times when you are covered. I mean, if a guy's on you, in this league, that's open. So Joe was able to put the ball in the right place, and I was able to make a play on it."

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