Baltimore adds no-huddle offense to punishing defense
BALTIMORE – The Baltimore Ravens’ new no-huddle offense gave the Cincinnati Bengals no chance to win.
Joe Flacco threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns, Ed Reed took an interception 34 yards for a score, and the Ravens rolled to a 44-13 victory Monday night to extend their home winning streak to 11 games.
Flacco and the offense worked this summer on running plays without a huddle, and when it came time to put the new scheme into action, the results were almost flawless. The Ravens amassed 430 yards, didn’t commit a turnover and punted only twice.
“That tempo really helped us out because those guys can really get to the passer and really create a lot of pressure,” Flacco said. “I think the fact that we were able to go up-tempo and kind of keep those guys on the field took its toll on them.”
After letting an early 14-point lead dwindle to 17-13, the Ravens pulled away by scoring 24 straight points in just over six minutes. Ray Rice ran for 68 yards and two short scores, but instead of dominating the Baltimore attack in his usual fashion, the running back took a back seat to Flacco.
“Obviously, everything went pretty well for us tonight,” Flacco said.
Not so for the Bengals, who made the playoffs last year without beating a team that qualified for postseason play. In this one, Cincinnati once again came up short against a high-caliber opponent.
“That certainly wasn’t what we expected to have out there today,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “We got outplayed and we got outcoached.”
Although the 44 points were only 11 fewer than the Ravens mustered in two games against Cincinnati last year, Lewis insisted Baltimore’s no-huddle attack wasn’t the difference.
“I wish I could say it was the no-huddle,” he said. “I think it’s an effective thing for them, and it’s something they’ll continue to do, but I don’t think it really bothered us.”
“They just outplayed us,” defensive tackle Domata Peko said.
Flacco watched the final eight minutes on the sideline after going 21 of 29 in Baltimore’s ninth consecutive victory in the AFC North. The Ravens were the only team in the division to win an opener.
And while the offense certainly was impressive, Baltimore’s defense also excelled in its first game under coordinator Dean Pees. Playing without injured NFL Defensive Player of the Year Terrell Suggs – who had 14 sacks last year – the Ravens dropped Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton four times.
Not only that, but Baltimore turned two turnovers into touchdowns over a two-minute span.
After Reed’s touchdown return, 37-year-old linebacker Ray Lewis forced a fumble that was recovered by Lardarius Webb, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Rice to make it 41-13 with 13:41 remaining.
Lewis and the defense are used to carrying this team, but now the offense seems ready to do its part.
Reed’s interception jaunt put the diminutive safety in the NFL record book. Reed has 1,497 yards in interception returns, eclipsing the previous record of 1,483 yards by Rod Woodson. It was Reed’s seventh career score on a pickoff return.
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