Ravens turn faith into results, and now exude confidence
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)
By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) A strong performance on the road lifted the Baltimore Ravens out of a two-week funk, put them back in first place and instilled confidence in an offense that played its best game of the year.
In a feel-good 30-17 victory over Oakland on Sunday, the Ravens (3-2) looked nothing like the team that had been outscored 70-16 in successive defeats to Jacksonville and Pittsburgh.
Coming in with the 30th-ranked offense in the NFL, Baltimore did not commit a turnover, got 222 yards passing from Joe Flacco and rushed for 143 yards even though starting running back Terrance West departed with a left calf injury on the opening drive.
After talking all week about the potential of the team's struggling offense, coach John Harbaugh watched the Ravens reach the 30-point mark for the first time in nine games since Dec. 4.
"It's hard to have confidence if you're not doing anything to generate confidence. That's what faith is," Harbaugh said Monday. "But as far as confidence in athletic ability, there's something to going out and doing it."
Flacco had a run of 10 straight games with an interception before dissecting the Raiders' secondary on Sunday. In addition to completing passes of 52 and 54 yards to Mike Wallace, he avoided being sacked and put Sam Koch in position to punt only three times.
And so, instead of being stuck in a three-game losing streak and a game behind Pittsburgh in the AFC North, the Ravens are back on track and tied atop the division.
"This one is a little more significant because just what it does for the mentality and the confidence of the football team," Flacco said, "and what not winning would have done to the mentality of the football team."
Flacco was protected by an ever-changing offensive line is without guards Marshal Yanda and Alex Lewis, both of whom are lost for the season. Matt Skura left Sunday's game with a sprained knee, but the unit nevertheless teamed to keep the quarterback clean.
"Very happy with the offensive line," Harbaugh said. "Our coaches did an excellent job of game planning and setting up different types of protections to keep (Oakland) off balance and our guys executed very well."
West is expected to miss Sunday's home game against Chicago, and there is no timetable for his return. Javorius Allen gained 73 yards on 21 carries against the Raiders and Alex Collins picked up 55 yards on 12 attempts.
Best of all, with Baltimore up 27-17 in the fourth quarter, the duo combined for 10 rushes during a 13-play drive that consumed nearly 6 + minutes and concluded with the clinching field goal.
"The running game came through when it had to," Harbaugh said. "It just goes to show, I think, the techniques were really good and the effort, the tenacity, the physicality, it was definitely there. We were strong at the end of the game. That's a statement for our guys."
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Updated October 9, 2017