Ravens get short reprive from off-field scandal

Baltimore (AFP) - The embattled Baltimore Ravens put the Ray Rice firestorm behind them for a few hours Thursday, routing Pittsburgh 26-6 in their first contest since the disgraced running back was sent packing.

Joe Flacco threw a pair of touchdown passes to Owen Daniels, Justin Tucker kicked four field goals and Baltimore forced three turnovers in placing the focus back on football amid a difficult week for the 2012 Super Bowl champions.

"We had a tough family situation this week," coach John Harbaugh said. "I thought our guys handled it tremendously -- with class, with character. They responded."

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The blowout win came in their first game since Rice was released by the team and then suspended indefinitely by the National Football League after a video was released Monday of him striking his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, in an Atlantic City casino elevator.

Rice had already been suspended two games for the incident, but the violence in the video led to his release and an indefinite suspension by the NFL.

Both the Ravens and commissioner Roger Goodell will continue to be under the microscope in the coming weeks for the way the matter was handled by the league.

"At the end of the day we are football players," said Ravens Steve Smith, who finished with six catches. "It is tough. The situation is tough. But you have to come to work and feed your family."

Ravens fans who attended Thursday's game at M&T Bank Stadium said they aren't abandoning Rice.

"I still support Ray Rice," season-ticket holder Christina Burke told ESPN. "I just don't believe one action or mistake should define a person."

Some who wore Rice jerseys got back slaps while others got heckled.

"You support a wife-beater," one female fan yelled at male fan wearing a No. 27 jersey prior to kickoff.

Baltimore rookie linebacker CJ Mosley said the players were thinking of Rice.

"We was all about getting the win. We wanted to kind of give that to Ray," Mosley said. "We all wish the best for him.

"Even though he messed up, every man got to go through their mistakes to get better. We wish him the best, but as a team we've just got to keep moving forward."

Flacco was steady throughout, throwing 71 of his 166 yards to Smith, while Bernard Pierce and Justin Forsett combined for 152 rushing yards to help Baltimore rebound from a season-opening defeat to Cincinnati.

The Steelers recorded six first downs in the second half -- four coming in its final drive with the outcome already determined.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger completed just 22-of-37 passes for 217 yards with an interception for the Steelers. He was held without a touchdown pass for the first time since the final game of the 2011 season.

Le'Veon Bell rushed for 107 yards after gaining 197 in Pittsburgh's week one victory over the Cleveland Browns.

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