Joe Flacco was all business, carving up Tampa Bay's secondary and helping the Baltimore Ravens get their season back on track with a dominating performance.
The Super Bowl-winning quarterback threw five touchdown passes in the first 16:03 of Sunday's 48-17 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, shrugging off a disappointing road loss that left Flacco and his teammates with a bad taste in their mouths from the previous week.
Even though the Ravens (4-2) still had a winning record, mistakes that undermined them against the Colts were difficult to accept.
"I know we played well. It was nice to bounce back after a tough game," Flacco said, shrugging off how gratifying it was to score on six consecutive possessions to build a 38-0 lead against the Bucs (1-5).
Flacco became the first NFL quarterback to throw five TD passes in the opening half since Tom Brady did it in 2009 on the way to New England beating Tennessee 59-0. The Ravens said he also did it quicker than any player in league history, accomplishing it just over a minute into the second quarter.
"All that stuff really doesn't matter. Anything we did after the first three touchdowns didn't really mean too much at the end of the day. It's all just statistics," Flacco said. "That stuff feels good and looks good, and it's great and all that, but it really doesn't matter. It's all about winning the football game."
Torrey Smith caught the first two TD passes, and Kamar Aiken, Michael Campanaro and Steve Smith followed for a 35-0 lead.
Coach John Harbaugh sensed during practice that the team was sharp, but no one could have predicted exactly how well the Ravens would perform.
Tampa Bay (1-5) trailed 38-0 at halftime and was embarrassed for the second time in six games under coach Lovie Smith. The Bucs were beaten 56-14 at Atlanta on Sept. 18, but rebounded from that debacle with a win over Pittsburgh and an overtime loss at New Orleans, outings that left Smith feeling his team was headed in the right direction.
"1-and-5 says were not a good football team, and we're not a good football team. It's as simple as that," Smith said. "We weren't able to get anything going. Total domination on their part."
Flacco was sacked four times and Baltimore was just 1 of 11 on third-down conversions a week ago in a disappointing 20-13 loss at Indianapolis, however the offense was in synch from the very start against the Bucs' porous Tampa2 defense.
With help from Justin Forsett's 52-yard run on the second play from scrimmage, the Ravens moved 80 yards in four plays to take a quick lead on Flacco's 15-yard scoring pass to Torrey Smith. His next three TD throws — 9 yards to Torrey Smith, 17 yards to Aiken and 19 yards to Campanaro — came on third-down throws.
Steve Smith is Baltimore's leading receiver, but was hardly involved until he beat cornerback Alterraun Verner deep down the left sideline for a 56-yard score that made it 35-0 just over a minute into the second quarter. It was the 14th-year pro seventh career TD against the Bucs.
"It was really surreal, and a lot of fun at that point," Flacco said. "At that point, shoot, we were on pace for almost 16 touchdowns."
Reasons the Ravens got back on track and the Bucs enter their bye week searching for answers:
UNTOUCHED: Flacco finished 21 of 29 for 306 yards with no interceptions and no sacks. Even more impressive, Tampa Bay did not have any quarterback hits. The Ravens had five sacks and 15 QB hits.
TOO LITTLE, MUCH TOO LATE: Mike Glennon was 24 of 44 for 314 yards, two TDs and one interception in his third start of the season for Tampa Bay, which lost Josh McCown to a thumb injury during its lopsided loss to Atlanta. But the Bucs still can't run the ball consistently and put too much pressure on their young quarterback.
FAMILIER TORMENTOR: Steve Smith finished with five catches for 110 yards, his eighth 100-yard day against Tampa Bay, a team he faced for 13 seasons as a member of the Carolina Panthers.
THIRD DOWN WOES: The Bucs were 2 for 12 on third-down conversions and 0 for 2 on fourth down.
BIG DAY: Forsett, who leads the NFL in average yards per carry, gained 111 yards on 14 carries, his first 100-day outing since 2009.
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