Make no mistake, the Ravens were supposed to trample the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
Just not this badly.
How they did it by a 55-20 margin was astounding en route to their NFL-high 15th consecutive regular season win at M&T Bank Stadium.
Joe Flacco threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns as the Ravens (7-2) scored 27 of their points in the first half, more than they could muster in four quarters of any of their four road games this season.
Going to play at the Pittsburgh Steelers for an AFC North game next Sunday, the challenge will be to replicate the magic at M&T where the Ravens average 37 points -- 20 points more than they score away.
“I honestly don’t think about it too much because it’s just happened to work out that way,” Flacco said when asked about his team’s inability to duplicate a performance such as this away from home. “They put up our record on the scoreboard today at home since ’08 and we have five losses. … We’ve played some big games on the road a couple years, every year we’ve been here, and we’ve won a lot of them.”
Sunday’s points are a franchise-high as Flacco posted his first 300-yard game passing since Week 4. It also is the most in the NFL this season, eclipsing 52 scored by the New England Patriots.
The result was secure early for Baltimore when Ray Rice, who only ran for 35 yards, punched in a 7-yard touchdown just before the intermission.
In the third quarter, Flacco would find Torrey Smith for touchdown passes of 47 and 20 yards on consecutive drives and holder/punter Sam Koch would run in a fake field goal for a 7-yard score. The Raiders (3-6) aided the effort by committing 10 penalties for 105 yards and three turnovers.
“For most of the game, we felt like we were in it, but things came apart in the third quarter,” Raiders quarterback Carson Palmer said. “They kept scoring and we couldn’t keep up. With all the penalties and mental errors we had, there’s no way we’re going to beat a playoff team on their field.”
Jacoby Jones piled it on with a 105-yard kickoff for his second touchdown on special teams this season. He had a 108-yard return in the 31-29 win against the Dallas Cowboys.
The Ravens’ defense was playing without cornerback Jimmy Smith, who was a late scratch because of a lingering groin strain. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata dressed but didn’t play, either.
Still, the Ravens’ struggling run defense didn’t have to contend with Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson, both out with high ankle sprains. Oakland only gained 72 yards on 24 carries for a 3.0 average.
During a three-game stretch, the Ravens were allowing 207 yards per game on the ground going into last week’s 25-15 win at the Cleveland Browns. There, they allowed 116. The line deflected six passes from Palmer.
This was a complete game for the Ravens, who started out well against the Browns with a 14-point lead but went without a first down in the second and third quarters, as all three phases made significant contributions for the victory.
Flacco even found tight end Dennis Pitta, who hasn't been a factor in the offense since Week 3, for a 5-yard touchdown pass that gave the Ravens a 17-3 lead.
"They definitely looked like they put an emphasis on trying to get to us a little bit, and we were able to get the ball out of our hands quickly," Flacco said. "And we had some good calls for those situations."