It was quite a start to the 2012 season as the Ravens dominated the Cincinnati Bengals in a 44-13 win on Monday night.
Their 44 points set a franchise record for Week 1, breaking the previous high of 38 set against the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009. It was also the first time in franchise history that Baltimore cracked the 40-point plateau against the Bengals.
With the New York Jets putting up 48 against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, the Ravens’ 44 points were the second most by any team during Week 1.
Quarterback Joe Flacco’s 52-yard completion to wide receiver Torrey Smith on the first play from scrimmage set the tone for an offensive explosion and was the longest play to begin a season in franchise history. The previous long came in 2011 when running back Ray Rice ran for 36 yards against Pittsburgh.
The Ravens also improved to 5-0 in Week 1 games under head coach John Harbaugh, which ranks as the second-longest streak in the league behind New England. Baltimore has won seven straight home openers overall.
The Week 1 success continues a positive trend that goes a long way in explaining why the Ravens have made it to the postseason in each of Harbaugh’s four seasons as head coach. Baltimore is now 10-3 in September games under Harbaugh, which is the NFL’s best mark during that month over the last five seasons. The New York Jets rank second at 10-4 over that same span.
Another record for Reed
Beginning his 11th professional season in Baltimore, safety Ed Reed became the NFL’s all-time leader in interception return yards when he picked off Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
Passing former Ravens defensive back and Hall of Famer Rod Woodson for the record, Reed’s return gave him 1,497 interception return yards for his career. It was the 58th interception of his career and marked the seventh interception return for a touchdown in 11 seasons. Including the playoffs, it was Reed’s 14th overall touchdown for his career.
Reed is the only player in NFL history to score return touchdowns off an interception, a punt return, a blocked punt, and a fumble recovery.
The future Hall of Fame safety’s interception return for a touchdown was an early birthday present as Reed turned 34 on Tuesday.
Already entering the game as the Ravens’ all-time leading passer, Flacco surpassed the 14,000-yard barrier for his career and has now passed for 14,115 yards in 65 games.
Completing 21 of 29 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns, the fifth-year quarterback posted a 128.4 passer rating on Monday night. That mark ranks as the fourth best in his career, and the Ravens are now 15-1 when Flacco has a rating of 110 or better.
Including the playoffs, Flacco now has 50 career victories, which ranks as the league’s most by any starting quarterback dating back to 2008.
Odds & ends
The Ravens have now won nine straight games against AFC North opponents, marking the NFL’s longest whining streak against one’s division. … Since 2000, the Ravens own a 58-1 record when posting a plus-2 turnover margin in a game. They were plus-2 on Monday night, courtesy of a Reed interception and a fumble recovery by cornerback Lardarius Webb. … Running back Ray Rice has rushed for 363 yards and six touchdowns in his last three games against the Bengals. … Returning from a broken hand that sidelined him for most of the preseason, tight end Dennis Pitta recorded a career-high 73 receiving yards and a touchdown on five catches. … Linebacker Ray Lewis posted a game-high 14 tackles and the 20th forced fumble of his career. His 14 tackles were the most he’s posted in a game since a 2010 game against Pittsburgh. … Baltimore’s 11-game winning streak at home in the regular season is the NFL’s longest and the Ravens have won 19 of their last 20 games at M&T Bank Stadium.