Baltimore Ravens' defense delivers opening statement in 47-3 rout of Buffalo Bills
BALTIMORE – Following a lengthy training camp and five meaningless preseason outings, the Baltimore Ravens finally got the chance to evaluate themselves in a game that counts.
Judging by their 47-3 rout of the Buffalo Bills on a rainy Sunday, the Ravens might be pretty darn good.
Then again, that might be tough to determine: The Bills looked absolutely awful.
Baltimore harassed and embarrassed Buffalo quarterback Nathan Peterman, and the Ravens got three touchdown passes from Joe Flacco in an opener worth savoring.
“Anytime you go get a win in Week 1, it’s great,” Flacco said. “Anytime you have a performance like we did, it’s great. We just have to make sure we build on this.”
Flacco’s TD passes were distributed to each of the three new receivers Baltimore added during the offseason to enhance a lackluster passing attack.
The 11-year veteran went 25 for 34 for 236 yards before being replaced in the third quarter by rookie Lamar Jackson, who did little more than hand off the ball after entering with a 40-0 lead.
Making their debut under defensive coordinator Don Martindale, the Ravens held Buffalo to 33 yards and no first downs in going up 26-0 at the half.
“Whatever they threw at us, we were able to answer,” linebacker Terrell Suggs said.
LeSean McCoy finished with 22 yards on seven carries and the Bills had 70 yards passing.
“LeSean McCoy is a threat. You have to start with that,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “Then you have to get to the quarterback and make him throw quick. That’s what our guys were able to do today.”
Making his third NFL start, Peterman went 5 for 18 for 24 yards and two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 0.0.
After Baltimore followed two Buffalo miscues with a pair of touchdowns for a 40-0 lead, coach Sean McDermott turned to rookie Josh Allen, who went 6 for 15 for 74 yards in Buffalo’s most lopsided defeat since a 56-10 loss to New England in November 2007.
“Obviously, it wasn’t a good showing,” Peterman said. “We’ve got to do a lot better, starting with me.”
There’s a quarterback controversy brewing in Buffalo. Asked about a possible change in starters, McDermott replied, “I’m going to look at everything. … It’s too early to go one way or another.”
If that was Buffalo’s only problem, it might be easier to overcome.
“We need to focus more on the entire team, not just the quarterback,” receiver Zay Jones said. “Offensive line, running backs, wide receivers, defense. We have to do better.”
Baltimore had six sacks and limited Buffalo to 153 yards.
The Ravens and Bills both finished 9-7 last year, but Buffalo won the tiebreaker and earned its first playoff berth since 1999. Since then, however, the Bills sent quarterback Tyrod Taylor to Cleveland and had to replace two starting offensive linemen.
The new-look Bills were not very pretty.
Buffalo won the opening coin toss, deferred until the second half and subsequently offered little resistance while Baltimore mounted a 10-play drive that ended with an 8-yard touchdown run by Alex Collins.
Baltimore quickly added a 7-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to John Brown, who was signed as a free agent after playing with Arizona last year.
A 51-yard punt return by rookie Janarion Grant set up a field goal in the second quarter, and Baltimore added another field goal after an interception by Tony Jefferson in Buffalo territory.
Michael Crabtree made a tippy-toe catch in the back corner of the end zone for a 12-yard TD late in the half, and Willie Snead scored on a 13-yard catch to make it 33-0 in the third quarter.
Crabtree was signed in March after a three-year run with Oakland, and Snead was secured as a restricted free agent from New Orleans.
SPREAD THE WEALTH
To get touchdowns from each of their new receivers was gratifying to Harbaugh, who hopes his team can end a three-year playoff drought.
“To see Joe spread the ball around like that, and to see all the guys step up and play plays was the thing I’m most excited about,” the coach said.
Bills: CB Taron Johnson left with a shoulder injury and did not return.
Bills: Linebacker Tremaine Edmunds is the first Bills rookie with a sack in the season opener since 2002 and first with a forced fumble since 2013.
Ravens: Before entering in the third quarter, Jackson was used sporadically – mostly as a decoy, although he did run once (for no gain) and throw an incomplete pass.
Buffalo opens its home schedule against the Los Angeles Chargers next Sunday afternoon.
Baltimore travels to Cincinnati for a Thursday night matchup between AFC North rivals.