The Baltimore Ravens vented eight months of frustration on the Pittsburgh Steelers today, turning them over seven times en route to an impressive 35-7 victory in front of a sold-out crowd at M & T Bank Stadium.
The Ravens got a ton of big plays on both sides of the ball from their stars. Ray Rice ran for 107 yards and scored twice, while Haloti Ngata recovered two fumbles and tipped a pass that led to a Ray Lewis interception.
The player who is perhaps savoring this moment the most is Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. Flacco was repeatedly bashed by local and national media this off-season for coming up short in big games. He also has never beaten Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger head to head in seven meetings. That streak ended today as Flacco completely outplayed his rival.
Flacco set the tone early as he led a three play drive to open the game with a touchdown strike to Anquan Boldin from 27 yards out. He added two more touchdowns, one to Ray Rice and another to new starting Tight End Ed Dickson against no turnovers for a Quarterback Rating of 117.6.
There was no let-up by the Ravens as they stormed to a 21-7 halftime lead. A score that matched the same margin as the AFC Divisional game against Pittsburgh from the 2010 season. But there would be no repeat performance today for Pittsburgh. Instead of turning the Ravens over three times this time it was the Steelers who couldn’t hold on to the ball.
A violent tackle strip of Rashard Mendenhall by Haloti Ngata was the first play of the Third Quarter that seemingly put the game away early. The next play Flacco found Ed Dickson streaking to the corner past Troy Polamalu for the score. For good measure Sam Koch grabbed the extra point try and squirted through untouched for the conversion to make it 29-7 Baltimore.
From there it was smooth sailing for the Ravens as they continued to apply the defensive pressure on Roethlisberger for the rest of the day. The team finished with four sacks, three interceptions and seven turnovers in all. An unexpectedly dominant performance against a very good football team.
Next week the Ravens travel to Nashville to take on the Tennessee Titans.