5 REASONS FOR THE OUTCOME

1. The Baltimore Ravens immediately grabbed the momentum Sunday to manufacture a season-opening 27-0 shutout. The win was punctuated by a physically-commanding 14-play, 80-yard drive to start the game that lasted nine minutes and was capped by a 4-yard touchdown run by running back Jamal Lewis. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers never recovered and never threatened to make this a competitive football game.

2. The defensive line batted down several of Tampa Bay quarterback Chris Simms' throws with one intercepted by massive rookie defensive tackle Haloti Ngata and returned 60 yards. Plus, cornerback Chris McAlister sprinted up the sidelines for a 60-yard touchdown on a pass that wasn't batted down. With safety Ed Reed's interception of Simms in the fourth quarter leading to a field goal, Baltimore turned those three turnovers into 17 points. Last season, the Ravens had just three defensive touchdowns, all by linebacker Adalius Thomas.
3. Steve McNair accomplished a rare feat by a Ravens quarterback. The former NFL Co-Most Valuable Player was far from perfect, but he never committed a turnover and delivered one touchdown pass. Accustomed to ineptitude under center, the Ravens are more than happy with this kind of efficiency and management of the offense. They'll take steady over erratic anytime.
4. The defense shut down running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams, limiting last year's NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year to 22 yards on eight carries. He was consistently stonewalled at or near the line of scrimmage by linebackers Ray Lewis and Bart Scott.
5. Lewis demonstrated flashes of his old bruising form, particularly on the opening drive. Stamina might be an issue, though, because of a lack of work during the preseason while out with a nagging hip injury.
Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times.

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