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(Sunday, September 27th)
Final Score: Baltimore 34, Cleveland 3
Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - The Baltimore Ravens continued their offensive assault with 479 yards of total offense, including a career-high 342 passing yards from Joe Flacco, while the defense had its best day of 2009 to date in a 34-3 win over the Cleveland Browns at M&T Bank Stadium.
Both sides of the ball had a hand in the Ravens' (3-0) first touchdown, setting the tone for a day in which every unit made a contribution.
A pass by Brady Quinn on Cleveland's first drive was intercepted by Baltimore cornerback Domonique Foxworth - the first of four turnovers for the Browns (0-3) on the day - and converted six plays later into a lead the Ravens would never relinquish when Willis McGahee's seven-yard touchdown run put them ahead, 7-0.
"We came out really smoking out of the tunnel," said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. "We had three touchdowns off of turnovers. We controlled the best return guy in football [Josh Cribbs]. Our coverage teams did an outstanding job. We got something out of our kick return. Then our defense - not giving up the shots, playing great run defense...I thought it was a complete victory, a team victory."
The Ravens extended their advantage to 10-0 later in the first, when Steve Hauschka capped off a 12-play, 68-yard drive with a 36-yard field goal. Later in the half, Hauschka ended a mammoth 16-play, 82-yard march with a 33-yard trifecta to make the score 13-0.
McGahee would score the Ravens' second touchdown of the day as well, finishing off an eight-play, 80-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown dash in the final minute of the first-half to stake Harbaugh's club to a 20-0 halftime lead.
The Ravens, who outgained the Browns, 479-186, on the day, were never tested thereafter.
Derrick Mason, who caught five passes for 118 yards, was the recipient of a 72-yard TD pass from Flacco with nearly eight minutes left in the game.
"We don't want to be predictable, we want to go out there and try to attack them," said Mason. "We're not going to let our feet off the gas pedal at any time this year. And I think in order to be a very good offense, you have to take that approach."
The Browns benched quarterback Brady Quinn after a first-half in which he completed 6-of-8 passes for just 34 yards with the interception, but replacement Derek Anderson wasn't much better. Anderson threw an interception to Baltimore linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo on his first drive, which the Ravens subsequently turned into a touchdown when Ray Rice scored on a nine- yard dash to make the score 27-0 midway through the third.
"I thought that at that point, D.A. [Derek Anderson] might be able to give us a spark," said Browns head coach Eric Mangini of the quarterback change. "That's what I was hoping to accomplish coming out of halftime.
"It's a difficult situation to go into, but I'm looking to not turn the ball over."
Anderson did lead Cleveland's lone scoring drive, engineering a 13-play, 66- yard jaunt that resulted in a 29-yard Billy Cundiff field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter, but did little to make a case for full-time status as the Browns' starter.
Anderson was 11-of-19 for 92 yards and three interceptions in the loss, Cleveland's ninth in a row dating back to last season. The Browns, who are 0-3 for the third time in the past four years, have scored just one offensive touchdown in their first 12 quarters of action in 2009.
"I'm going to look at it, and I'll make a decision early next week," said Mangini of the QB situation for next week's home contest against the Bengals.
The Browns attack was hampered by the absence of running back Jamal Lewis, who was inactive due to a bad hamstring.
Lewis' fill-in, Jerome Harrison, gained 52 yards on 16 carries in the loss.
Baltimore is 3-0 for the first time since 2006, when the team won its first four en route to a 13-3 finish.
Flacco completed 25-of-35 passes...Browns kicker Phil Dawson missed the game with a calf injury suffered in practice earlier this week, the first time since 2003 that someone else did the kicking for Cleveland. Cundiff made his only field goal attempt...Mason logged his 800th career reception on a five- yard pass play in the second quarter...Rice's third-quarter touchdown run was the first of his career...Baltimore, which led the NFL in rushing defense entering Week 3 (41 yards per game), surrendered just 71 rushing yards and has not allowed a 100-yard rusher in 38 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the NFL...Flacco's career-high effort surpassed his 307-yard outing against the Chiefs in Week 1.
09/27 17:06:54 ET
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