NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Baltimore Ravens posed for photos on the sideline as the clock ticked down the final seconds, making sure to remember the moment.
A franchise-record 11 sacks – one shy of the NFL record for a game – must be preserved and celebrated.
Za’Darius Smith finished with a career-high three sacks, and Patrick Onwuasor got his first two this season as the Ravens shut down the Tennessee Titans 21-0 in the rain Sunday. They just missed matching the NFL record shared by five teams.
“Just a historic defensive performance,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.
The Ravens started sacking Marcus Mariota on the opening drive, with eight different Ravens getting at least one sack. Four got their first of the season:
►Nose tackle Chris Wormley got the first on the Titans’ sixth play.
►Smith got the second on the very next snap.
►Safety Anthony Levine Sr. got No. 3 at the end of the first quarter.
►Onwuasor notched No. 4 in the second quarter.
►Smith followed again with his second two plays later.
►Terrell Suggs got No. 6 on the next drive.
►Safety Tony Jefferson sacked Mariota for No. 7 midway through the third.
►Cornerback Tavon Young added No. 8 late in the third.
►Linebacker Matthew Judon tied the franchise mark on the Titans’ first play in the fourth quarter.
►Onwuasor set a new mark on the Titans’ final first down.
►Smith finished with his third of the game and No. 11 overall on third-and-11.
Smith said the Ravens didn’t know how many sacks they had until tying the team record of nine and were told they could break the record set Nov. 24, 2011, against San Francisco.
“So we went and got two more,” Smith said with a laugh.
The Ravens even changed their Twitter handle to have an “S” for each sack.
Dean Pees and the Titans simply couldn’t stop his old team as the Ravens outgained Tennessee 361-106 and punted only once against a defense led by their former defensive coordinator. Pees came out of a short retirement to join first-year head coach Mike Vrabel.
Joe Flacco threw for 238 yards and a touchdown for Baltimore. Alex Collins scored on TD runs of 13 and 2 yards.
The Titans (3-3) lost their second straight and were shut out at home for the first time since leaving Houston for Tennessee in 1997. Tennessee also has not scored a touchdown in eight straight quarters. The Ravens couldn’t have looked much better handing Tennessee its first shutout since Nov. 28, 2010.
“The Tennessee Titans didn’t do nearly enough in all levels to win the football game, or even make it competitive,” Vrabel said.
Marcus Mariota tried playing both with and without the partial glove covering his ring and pinkie fingers on his throwing hand. It didn’t help as Mariota was sacked the most in his four-year NFL career.
Mariota said he had never had a game like this. He ran twice for 25 yards and was 10 of 15 for 117 yards while being pummeled.
“We’ve got to do better,” Mariota said.
The Titans forced a turnover with All-Pro safety Kevin Byard getting his first interception this season. Tennessee did nothing with the ball late in the first half.
Baltimore executed nearly flawlessly from winning the coin toss. The Ravens converted 12 of 17 third downs, not counting another off a Titans penalty. They also held the ball for more than 37 minutes.
Flacco drove Baltimore 94 yards over 17 plays, eating up more than nine minutes of the first quarter before hitting Michael Crabtree on a 4-yard TD. Collins capped their next drive with a 13-yard run and a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter. After halftime, Collins finished off a 78-yard drive that ate up 7:20 of the third quarter.
The Ravens quarterback enjoyed watching his teammates’ defensive performance.
“It’s fun to watch when they’re over there doing those kind of things,” Flacco said.
Ravens left guard Alex Lewis was taken to Vanderbilt University Medical Center with a neck injury after being hurt within the first minute of the fourth quarter. Lewis had been blocking on a run by Gus Edwards when he turned away from the pile slowly and went down. Trainers strapped him to a backboard and carted him off the field.
Harbaugh said there’s a lot of optimism for Lewis, who was getting a CT scan at the hospital.
“We said a prayer as a team for him when we came in, so that’s where our thoughts are right now with Alex,” Harbaugh said.
Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan hurt a shoulder and did not return. Left guard Quinton Spain hurt his right shoulder with 6:51 left in the third quarter and did not return.
Ravens: Finally back home hosting New Orleans.
Titans: Franchise’s first game in London as road team against the Chargers.