5 KEYS TO THE GAME

1. During the Baltimore Ravens' 24-10 victory Sunday over the Atlanta Falcons at M&T Bank Stadium, diminutive return specialist B.J. Sams propelled a second-half resurgence as he returned six kicks for 212 yards, including punt returns of 65 yards and 39 yards along with a 59-yard kickoff return.

His elusiveness directly led to 14 points as Baltimore outscored the Falcons 24-3 after halftime. Sams' prolific effort followed him making a bad decision in the first half when he tried to spin away from a defender and was tackled near the Ravens' goal line. He more than made up for that mistake, though, continually granting the Ravens outstanding field position. It led to Baltimore (8-2) remaining three games ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC North as they continue to chase the No. 2 overall playoff seed in the AFC.

2. Former Pro Bowl runner Jamal Lewis rebounded from a terrible first half where he gained just 12 yards on six carries to tie a career-high with three touchdown runs on 22 carries for 91 yards and a 4.1 average per carry. Lewis hadn't rushed for that many touchdowns since a Dec. 7, 2003 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Against a depleted Atlanta defense playing without injured starters John Abraham, Patrick Kerney, Ed Hartwell and Jason Webster, Lewis scored from 2, 16 and 5 yards.

3. The defense managed to sack Falcons quarterback Michael Vick five times, including two from defensive end Trevor Pryce and one on a cornerback blitz from Samari Rolle. Vick broke containment in a major way once, gaining 18 yards, but finished with 54 yards on nine scrambles. Vick completed just 11 of 21 throws for 127 yards with one touchdown pass.

4. Quarterback Steve McNair didn't throw a touchdown, but controlled the game well with 24 of 34 accuracy for 236 yards and an 89.8 passer rating as the Ravens controlled the time of possession category. Baltimore held the ball offensively 36 minutes and 43 seconds to the Falcons' 23 minutes and 17 seconds.

5. The Ravens won despite kicker Matt Stover missing a field goal for the first time since the seventh game of the 2005 season as his streak of consecutive field goals made ended at 36 on a 42-yard attempt in the first quarter that sailed wide of the left upright. He was pursuing the NFL record held by Mike Vanderjagt, who once made 42 straight for the Indianapolis Colts.

Aaron Wilson covers the Baltimore Ravens for the Carroll County Times in Westminster, Maryland.

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