BALTIMORE (AP)—Seven games into his professional career, Joe Flacco has already done things some quarterbacks never accomplish.
The Baltimore Ravens rookie has thrown for touchdowns. He’s run for touchdowns. And in Sunday’s 29-10 win over the Oakland Raiders, Flacco nearly stumbled into the end zone after grabbing a 43-yard pass from backup quarterback Troy Smith.
“I trusted myself that if they threw it, I would catch it. I was hoping I would catch it,” Flacco said. “I didn’t want to make a fool of myself.”
Using their own version of the single wing, the Ravens (4-3) inserted Smith at quarterback and used Flacco as the wide receiver on the left side. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh joked the formation was called the “Suggs Package,” a reference to linebacker Terrell Suggs’ assertion that Smith should be the starting quarterback.
Smith ran for 13 yards on three carries, including a pitch to Ray Rice that gained 19 more yards, before both quarterbacks showed their athleticism on the highlight-reel play in the third quarter. Smith heaved a sideline pass to Flacco, who made an excellent grab on the run after getting behind linebacker Ricky Brown.
“By the time I caught the ball, I was leaning over. I stumbled as long as I could,” said Flacco, who was downed at the Oakland 6. “My feet were just getting drilled by the rest of my body. They were trying to keep up but they couldn’t.”
The play led to a field goal for a 22-3 lead, and the way the Baltimore defense was playing, that was more than enough points to win.
Using a variety of blitzes employed by defensive coordinator Rex Ryan, the Ravens limited the Raiders (3-5) to 35 yards in building a 19-0 halftime lead. The victory was particularly sweet for Ryan because his twin brother, Rob, is Oakland’s defensive coordinator.
It’s a friendly rivalry, but one for bragging rights in a football family featuring former NFL coach Buddy Ryan as patriarch.
“Just another victory over my brother,” Rex said. “I’ll let him get on the plane, go home, and then I’ll call him and rub it in a little bit.”
Rex won the duel, but Rob had to deal with a surprise wrinkle: the Suggs Package.
“We want to be real aggressive. We want to be very creative in what we’re doing offensively,” Harbaugh said.
It helps to have a big quarterback like Flacco, who last caught a touchdown pass in high school.
“At 6-foot-6, you don’t really talk about his versatility and athleticism, but it shows you right there,” Smith said. “That was an incredible play.”
As a passer, Flacco was a modest 12-for-24 for 140 yards and a touchdown. But he also scored on a 12-yard run to seal the victory with 3:35 to go.
So what else can he do? Kick a field goal?
“I’m not a very good kicker,” Flacco said. “I told the coaches, no thanks on that.”
Oakland’s JaMarcus Russell went 15-for-33 for 228 yards and an interception.
“You have to grow up fast and I think, with certain situations, you become better,” he said. “It’s tough out there, man—I promise.”
The Raiders’ ground game was even more helpless, managing only 47 yards.
Oakland didn’t cross midfield until its first possession of the third quarter, when rookie Chaz Schilens caught a 60-yard pass that led to a field goal. Russell threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Justin Griffith late in the third quarter to make it 22-10, but that was the Raiders’ final gasp.
Baltimore held a 221-35 advantage in first-half yardage in building a 19-0 lead.
“The first half, we just got our tails whipped at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball,” Oakland coach Tom Cable said. “There’s really no other way to put it.”
So what about the second half?
“It’s just challenging them,” Cable said. “I’m going to say this again: We have a good football team that’s got to believe … in itself. That’s where it starts, and it starts with me.”
Griffith was injured on his TD and did not return. … Ravens special teams ace Brendon Ayanbadejo left with an ankle injury. … Oakland converted 2 of 13 third-down plays. … It was the 100th win for the Ravens. … Suggs recorded his 50th career sack.