Ravens have record-setting rally in win over Cardinals
BALTIMORE - Sleepwalking through another dreadful first half, the Baltimore Ravens didn't awaken from their slumber until after an emotional halftime.
Triggering scorn and disdain from their booing fans as they trudged into the locker room one week after an embarrassing loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Ravens got their act together.
Energized by a resurgent offense that featured the no-huddle and the shotgun formation in the second half, the Ravens overcame a three-touchdown deficit in the first half to manufacture a 30-27 comeback victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday before 71,022 at M&T Bank Stadium.
It's the biggest comeback in franchise history as the Ravens (5-2) scored 24 points in the second half before the Cardinals (1-6) answered midway through the fourth quarter.
The Ravens' biggest prior comeback was against the Tennessee Titans five years ago as they erased a 19-point lead.
"We woke up, plain and simple," said wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who sparked the Ravens with a game-high seven receptions for 145 yards against his old football team. "Our offense came out flat. We know we played poor as an offense in the first half, and we felt like this team wasn't better than us, point-blank. We just woke up in the second half. Still had a bitter taste in our mouth from last week, so we wanted to come out and rectify that."
Capped by a 25-yard field goal from Billy Cundiff to win the game as the fourth quarter expired, the Ravens' offense held up its end of the bargain in the second half. The Ravens finished with 405 yards of total offense after generating only 156 yards in the first half.
Quarterback Joe Flacco completed 31 of 51 passes for 336 yards, doing the majority of his damage after a quiet first half where he struggled markedly one week after one of the worst games of his career. In the first half, Flacco completed only 12 of 23 passes for 98 yards and an interception.
His 36-yard lob to rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith positioned Cundiff for the game-winning kick.
"I'm just proud of our guys, it's pretty special," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "You're going to keep fighting. If you watch around this league, you can come back and win. You're really thinking about how we're going to get this thing straightened out. What can we do? What are we able to do. What plays can we run? That's the kind of conversation we have.
"I think we've had some adversity. If you look back, we've had some tough games and I think our guys have always responded. That's the kind of guys we have. That's the kind of team we've build. The men that are in that room are there for a reason."
Flacco completed all five of his passes for 64 yards on the Ravens' opening drive of the second half to set up the first of running back Ray Rice's career-high three touchdown runs.
After falling behind 24-6 at halftime as Flacco was intercepted once and lost a fumble and the punt team surrendered an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown to rookie Patrick Peterson, the Ravens came out firing in the second half.
Not before being greeted by boos as they entered the field in the third quarter.
"I'd probably be wanting to boo if I was in the stands, too," Flacco said. "We weren't looking too good, and we weren't playing too well. I think they have the right to be a little bit upset about how we were playing.
"When we were playing well, they came back to cheering us. You can deal with a little boos every now and then, especially when you come back to win the game."
It was Flacco who was one of the offensive players who delivered a halftime speech. And he directed scoring drives on four of the Ravens' seven second-half possessions.
"I didn't hear it, but if he did do it, that's great," outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said regarding Flacco's halftime remarks. "I was too busy getting hammered myself. The first half was on all of us. I don't ever want to come back from 21 points again.
"I didn't feel comfortable, but I had faith and I trusted. If we had to, we were going to have to score on defense. We thought that was the way we might have to do it, but fortunately the offense came through."
The Ravens marched 80 yards on seven plays on the first drive of the third quarter, a drive keyed by a 37-yard completion to Boldin and a subsequent pass interference on Cardinals cornerback A.J. Jefferson while guarding Boldin.
"Anquan Boldin is a star," offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said. "Always has been."
On the ensuing play, Rice busted into the end zone untouched from one yard out to close the gap to 24-13.
Boldin was a pivotal presence in the second half, schooling Cardinals cornerbacks Peterson and Jefferson with his superior route-running skills. He drew two pass interference penalties that led to touchdowns from Rice.
"Anquan was definitely the catalyst in the whole thing," Harbaugh said. "They had his arm pinned down once or twice, and he still made catches. It was Anquan that got us going from the jump."
In the third quarter, Boldin dominated the Cardinals' secondary.
The former Pro Bowl selection hauled in receptions from 23, 9, 27 and 21 yards and drew a critical defensive pass interference penalty before Rice plunged into the end zone from one yard out to bring the Ravens to within four points.
After the Ravens' first drive of the second half, Flacco completed 6 of 8 passes for 87 yards. He went to Boldin seven times, completing four passes to him for 80 yards.
"We felt like they had young corners, and that's one of the things we felt like we could take advantage of," Boldin said. "That's one of the reasons I was brought here. Joe was able to put the ball in the right place, and I was able to make a play on it."
The Ravens' 24-point outburst leapfrogged them in front of the Cardinals with a 27-24 lead on Rice's third touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
That score followed an interception by inside linebacker Jameel McClain, who benefited from Suggs crashing into Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb to affect the throw.
"The ball went up in the air, and all I had to do was catch it," McClain said. "We knew we had to get after them, and that's exactly what we did. I felt like the way we came out at halftime is what turned it around."
Although the Cardinals would tie the game on a 45-yard Jay Feely field goal with 8:55 remaining, the Ravens managed to pull it out with a quick drive in the last minute.
After a day where his timing was off on deep throws to Smith, Flacco finally found him behind cornerback Richard Marshall at the five-yard line to get Cundiff ready for his deciding field goal.
By then, the fans' boos had long turned to cheers.
"We just kept believing, kept believing," All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "They are the same fans that are going to switch around and start cheering as soon as we put some points on the board. And it happened. You have to truly respect them for saying, 'This ain't what we're used to,' and it's not.
"For us to come out and give the ball away and let a team get up on us, that's just not us. For them to show their displeasure, that's OK. We're man enough to come back and say, 'We know how to come back and get you back in the game.' That's to drive and create spots and put points on the board, and we did that."
The Ravens also utilized Rice more this game after he rushed for a season-low 28 yards on eight carries during a loss to the Jaguars. This time, he rushed for 63 yards on 18 carries and also caught seven passes for 36 yards.
"Honestly, I don't worry about my involvement in this offense," Rice said. "I know that I'm a playmaker, and I know that I'm going to touch the ball a certain amount of times as the flow of the game goes. When my number is called, I'll be ready."
The Ravens endured a disastrous five minutes in the second quarter where Flacco fumbled on an O'Brien Schofield sack to lead to a Beanie Wells touchdown dive.
Then, Peterson broke five tackles in the open field on his electrifying touchdown return.
And an accurate Flacco throw bounced off Smith's pads for a Marshall interception that led to a 10-yard touchdown pass from Kolb to Early Doucet to stake the Cardinals to a 24-3 lead late in the second quarter.
"When you hear the boos you know where it's coming from," Rice said. "It's not like they don't want us to do well. It was tough. At the same time, we held our head high and the boos turned into cheers in the second half."
Defensively, the Ravens sacked Kolb six times and limited him to 10 of 21 passing for one touchdown and an interception.
Now, the Ravens will launch preparations today for an AFC North showdown next Sunday night at Heinz Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers (5-2) will be looking to exact revenge on the Ravens after being trounced 35-7 by Baltimore to open the season. And the Ravens, Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals are all tied for first place in the division.
"I guarantee you that the whole NFL shuts down next week just for that game," Suggs said. "The whole world has been waiting to see it, so I'm just happy I am healthy enough to be a part of this game. I get to go into Heinz Field and be the bad guy."
Ravens notebook: Cameron says no one panicked at halftime
BALTIMORE - Cam Cameron could finally smile again, and breathe a sigh of relief after an extremely rough week.
Under siege after one of the worst offensive performances in Baltimore Ravens history, the offensive coordinator was at the controls of a resurgent attack during a 30-27 victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
The Ravens overcame a three-touchdown deficit, scoring 24 unanswered points from the end of the second quarter to the middle of the fourth quarter Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
After registering no first downs for the first 40 minutes of a 12-7 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars a week ago and gaining just 16 yards of total offense during the first half of that debacle, the Ravens piled up 405 yards of total offense against Arizona.
It was an especially rough week for Cameron, whose competence and future employment were debated loudly around town after the way the offense faltered in Jacksonville.
"Our fans are brutal when we do what we did the other night, and rightfully so, because they're so passionate about what we do," Cameron said. "Maybe I'm getting goofy at this stage, but I appreciate the brutalness of our fans in a way because it's so important to them. I've got no problem being the target, because I've got great guys."
Quarterback Joe Flacco passed for 336 yards, setting career-highs with 51 attempts and 31 completions as wide receiver Anquan Boldin caught seven passes for 145 yards.
And running back Ray Rice ran for a career-high three touchdowns.
"At halftime, no one blinked," Cameron said. "No one panicked. It was like, ‘What do we got to do now?' We came up with a plan, executed the plan. We have great leadership on offense, great poise.
"Joe never blinked. He stood up and told everybody what we were going to do. We needed to get the ball to our players. The great thing is guys believing. This group believes in each other.
BIG GAME: Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs hasn't forgotten how his hometown Cardinals ignored him in the NFL draft despite a stellar career at Arizona State.
The Ravens wound up drafting Suggs 10th overall, four picks after the Cardinals, and he became the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Suggs made the Cardinals pay for that mistake Sunday with a game-high 13 tackles, four for losses with one sack and two quarterback hits
"It's always special to do it against Arizona, but let's be honest, it worked out because the right thing was for me to be a Baltimore Raven," Suggs said. "That was the best thing that could ever happen to me in my professional career. I'm going to always have a little something extra in the tank for Arizona, know what I mean?"
The Ravens sacked Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb six times, but Suggs could have made it eight if he had managed to tackle him a few more times in the backfield.
"I left some things on the field," Suggs said. "When we win and I finish the job, that's when it will be my best game. I'm always trying to go for the fumble, until I say just screw the fumble and I just bring him down. I'm going to have to go back and critique myself a little bit: Finish it and win the game for my team."
POLLARD ANGRY ABOUT CALLS: Ravens strong safety Bernard Pollard and running back Ray Rice were both flagged for taunting Sunday.
Pollard shoved Cardinals tight end Jeff King out of bounds following a nine-yard reception. And Rice celebrated after a first down.
"He said I taunted the guy, I guess he said I stood over him too long after I hit him," Pollard said. "I'm happy anytime I hit somebody, anytime I can do something for the team. We get excited for that. And if you want to tell me don't get excited, no, no, no. I'm going to get excited because that's what we have to do. Like I said, this is a game of emotion, and they can't take that from us, and they're trying to. There has to be a happy medium."
The Ravens were penalized 11 times for 99 yards.
"I think they just don't like us," Pollard said. "I told the ref after he threw the flag, ‘This is a high-energy game, this is a contact sport. We're allowed to have fun and you're trying to take the fun out of the game."
Meanwhile, Pollard said he has appealed his $10,000 fine for hitting Jaguars running back Deji Karim.
"Yeah, we already appealed it," Pollard said. "It shows that something wasn't right because they fined me $10,000 instead of $40,000 or $50,000. They're trying to sugarcoat it and I'm not going to let them sugarcoat it. It's not fair.
"We've been taught as a defense when a guy comes across the middle, you hit him. You destroy him. You let that team know that you can't throw against our middle. They're trying to take that away from us, but this is football. This is a high-energy game, a violent game, and you just can't take us out of that."
GAME-WINNER: After shanking a 52-yard field goal against the Jaguars, Pro Bowl kicker Billy Cundiff delivered in the clutch Sunday.
His 25-yard field goal as the clock expired won the game for Baltimore.
"I was really disappointed in my effort last week," said Cundiff, who hit all three field goals Sunday. "It was one of the worst kicks of my career. So, it was gratifying to know I got back on the track. My big thing is going out there and making a positive difference for the team. I feel like I did that."
CARR, ZBIKOWSKI ARE BACK: The Ravens' secondary keeps getting healthier as cornerback Chris Carr and strong safety Tom Zbikowski returned from injuries.
Carr lined up in the nickel package and returned two punts for 15 yards in his first game back from a left hamstring injury
And Zbikowski had one tackle on special teams and one on defense in his first game back since suffering a concussion against the New York Jets.
"I was good last week, but they just sat me out to be safe," said Carr, who had been sidelined since the Ravens' game against the St. Louis Rams. "I felt good, I felt really comfortable out there. I thought I had good coverage all day. It felt good after watching film for weeks and weeks to actually get to apply it on Sunday. It's very gratifying because most everything that I saw I could anticipate. Nothing surprised me."
The Ravens also expanded rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith's role, lining him up in the base defense for a few snaps. He had one pass deflection
"Of course, I want to be on the field as much as possible," Carr said. "I know we have a lot of talent, so whatever they want me to do Jimmy got to play a little bit, and it's good because everybody's playing at a high level right now."
RAY LEWIS SHAKEN UP: All-Pro middle linebacker Ray Lewis missed a handful of plays in the first quarter due to a right shoulder stinger.
The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year went back in the game in the second quarter, and downplayed the injury after the game. He finished the game with five tackles and a quarterback hit, dropping a potential interception.
"You always catch those hits sometimes, and my arm was caught in an awkward position when I tried to engage the guy," Lewis said. "And just regular numbness, and I just had to let it shake off. I was more concerned with not letting them score than my arm at the time. So, I just brushed it off, and once it settled in, it's OK."
HEAP INACTIVE: Cut by the Ravens prior to training camp due to a $4.6 million salary-cap figure, former Baltimore tight end Todd Heap was deactivated due to a strained hamstring.
With Heap out, his replacements, Ravens tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta, combined for a dozen receptions for 90 yards.
"It's always good to have a good game versus your teacher," Dickson said. "He's a great mentor. There's nobody out there that's better than him. And I just told him, man, I appreciate everything he did for me. And we just wanted to make plays for him. He taught us better than that."
TWO SACKS: Former second-round draft pick Paul Kruger recorded two sacks against the Cardinals.
His last sack led to the game-winning field goal, dropping Kolb for a nine-yard loss.
The Ravens have 25 sacks for the season and are on pace for 57.
"This is what I've been working for the past three years, trying to get better and better, working with the coaches," said Kruger, who has three sacks this season. "I'm really happy. The more plays you can make, the more special the game is going to be for you. It's definitely a big game for me. I can't say enough about the guys around me."
QUICK HITS: The Ravens scratched offensive guard Ben Grubbs (right turf toe), wide receiver Lee Evans (left ankle), cornerbacks Danny Gorrer (thigh) and Chykie Brown (illness), outside linebacker Sergio Kindle and rookie running back Anthony Allen (thigh). ... The Ravens' game captains were Suggs and reserve safety Haruki Nakamura. ... Besides Heap, the Cardinals deactivated quarterback Richard Bartel, wide receiver Stephen Williams, free safety Kerry Rhodes (foot), outside linebacker Joey Porter (knee), defensive end Ronald Talley and offensive tackle D'Anthony Batiste. ... The Ravens improved to 20-3 against teams with losing records in the John Harbaugh era.
The Ravens have now won 14 of their past 15 home games, six consecutive home games and are 23-5 at home since Harbaugh was hired.
The Ravens are the lone NFL team not allow an opponent to score on a game-opening drive this season.
Former Ravens Super Bowl coach Brian Billick was in the broadcast booth Sunday for FOX.
Baltimore Ravens' Report Card
Joe Flacco played markedly better in the second half after a horrendous start to finish 31 of 51 for 336 yards with no touchdowns and one interception for a 72.0 passer rating. However, Flacco was mostly just chucking it up in the air to Anquan Boldin. There were very few high-precision throws. The best thing he did was keep the chains moving in the second half and avoided sacks to rally the offense. There were some overthrows that prevented Flacco from piling up 400 to 500 yards of passing.
Running backs: C-plus
Ray Rice rebounded from one of the worst games of his career where he was barely involved a week ago to pile up 99 yards from scrimmage Sunday. He rushed for 63 yards and a career-high three touchdowns on 18 carries, catching seven passes for 36 yards. It wasn't vintage Rice, but it was a far better performance and division of the workload. Backup tailback Ricky Williams contributed a 24-yard run where he displayed some open-field wiggle. The Ravens started off strong, but had to get away from the run because they fell behind.
Anquan Boldin took over in the second half, catching seven passes for 145 yards. He put on a clinic, schooling the Cardinals' young cornerbacks. Tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta combined for a dozen receptions for 90 yards. Torrey Smith finally connected with Flacco for a key 36-yard catch in the second half.
Offensive line: C
They allowed Flacco to be sacked three times, struggling against the Cardinals' talented defensive linemen Calais Campbell and Darnell Dockett. The pass protection tightened up in the second half as they went to maximum protection schemes that were fairly effective. However, there are better defenses out there that are capable of exposing left offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie and left guard Andre Gurode. Gurode has been struggling mightily in place of Ben Grubbs. The constant penalties have to stop. The run blocking, particularly by right guard Marshal Yanda, was strong
Defensive line: B
All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata was virtually unblockable, finishing with four tackles. Backup defensive end Paul Kruger notched two sacks as a situational pass rusher. This wasn't a sharp game for nose guard Terrence Cody.
Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs had one of his best game except for allowing Kevin Kolb to escape his grasp twice. Suggs registered a game-high 13 tackles, four for losses with one sack and two quarterback hits. Middle linebacker Ray Lewis would have tracked down Kolb in the past instead of allowing him to run for a first down. The Ravens got gashed by a banged-up Beanie Wells for 83 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries.
There were too many penalties by Cary Williams. And a missed tackle by cornerback Lardarius Webb allowed Larry Fitzgerald to pick up 66 yards. Overall, they contained the Cardinals' passing game as Fitzgerald finished with 98 yards on three catches.
Special teams: D
The Ravens allowed their second return for a touchdown this season, missing several tackles on an 82-yard punt return by Patrick Peterson. The open-field tackling and the lane discipline and athleticism of the kickoff and punt teams is suspect. It's a surprise that the special teams is playing this way considering it's the specialty of coach John Harbaugh. The Ravens also allowed the Cardinals to average 29.6 yards per kickoff return. They didn't mount any threat of their own on punt returns and kickoff returns. Kicker Billy Cundiff knocked in a game-winning 25-yard chip shot after missing a 52-yarder against the Jaguars. And punter Sam Koch averaged 43.8 yards per punt return with two downed inside the Cardinals' 20-yard line.
Ravens: Three keys to the game
BALTIMORE -- Embarrassed by the Jacksonville Jaguars in front of the entire nation in a Monday night debacle last week, the Baltimore Ravens avoided another setback Sunday by defending their home turf against the reeling Arizona Cardinals.
The Ravens manufactured a 30-27 comeback victory at M&T Bank Stadium by overcoming a 21-point deficit for the biggest turnaround during a win in franchise history.
Here are the keys to the win:
1. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco overcame a rough first half to complete 31 of 51 throws for 336 yards. By halftime, Flacco had completed only 12 of 23 throws for 98 yards with an interception. On the opening drive of the second half capped by a Ray Rice touchdown run, he connected on all five throws for 73 yards.
2. Former Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin was the catalyst in the second half, catching a game-high seven passes for 145 yards. He dominated young cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and A.J. Jefferson. One week after rushing for a season-low 28 yards on eight carries, Rice ran for a career-high three touchdowns. He rushed for 63 yards on 18 carries and caught seven passes for 36 yards.
3. Defensively, the Ravens sacked Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb six times and intercepted him once. Pro Bowl outside linebacker Terrell Suggs led the charge with 13 tackles, four for losses, one sack and two quarterback hits.
Reserve defensive end Paul Kruger recorded two sacks as a situational pass rusher. The secondary also contained Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald with the exception of a 66-yard catch where cornerback Lardarius Webb missed a tackle. He caught three passes for 98 yards.
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