BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens played defense in a fashion Rex Ryan could surely appreciate — even if the performance came at his team’s expense. Baltimore used a touchdown pass by Joe Flacco , two field goals and a throwback defensive effort to beat the Buffalo Bills 13-7 on Sunday in the season opener. Getting […]
BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens played defense in a fashion Rex Ryan could surely appreciate — even if the performance came at his team’s expense.
That’s how Baltimore played defense under Ryan from 1999-2008, and that’s how it won the 2012 Super Bowl.
Ryan is now Buffalo’s head coach, and it pained him to see his offense struggle against a defensive unit that last year yielded 401 points.
“It’s a pretty darn good defense over there,” Ryan said. “I’m probably one of the only coaches that’ll give credit to the opponent because they deserve it. That defense played extremely well. They’re well coached and they got after us.”
Returning from a knee injury that ended his season last November, Flacco went 23 for 34 for 258 yards, including a long touchdown pass to newcomer Mike Wallace in the second quarter that put the Ravens ahead for good.
That, plus field goals of 50 and 37 yards by Justin Tucker, was enough for Baltimore’s first season-opening victory since 2012.
Taylor used his quickness to avoid a ferocious pass rush, but he had little success passing downfield. He was 15 of 22 for only 111 yards and ran five times for 11 yards.
“Getting Tyrod on the ground is pretty difficult,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “We would have had him a few more times, but he made plays with his feet.”
Baltimore took a 10-0 lead when Wallace got behind Stephon Gilmore, took a pass in stride and pulled away for the 66-yard touchdown. Signed as a free agent to enhance an offense that last year lacked a deep threat, Wallace hadn’t been part of a play that long since 2012 with Pittsburgh.
“We made one mistake: It’s my fault, it’s on me,” Ryan said. “We should have doubled the receiver that caught the touchdown. Instead we doubled somebody else.”
Buffalo used the elusiveness of Taylor in the pocket to close to 10-7 before halftime. After wriggling from the grasp of Albert McClellan and sidesteppingTerrell Suggs, Taylor completed a 33-yard pass to Charles Clay, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by LeSean McCoy on fourth down.
The Bills missed a chance to pull even when Dan Carpenter was wide right on a 49-yard field goal try midway through the third quarter.
INJURY UPDATE: Bills starting LT Cory Glenn (ankle) and TE Jim Dray(ankle) both left with injuries in the second quarter and did not return. Bills DTJerel Worthy left with a knee injury in the fourth quarter and did not return. The Ravens did not report any injuries.
ROOKIE BLUNDER & THUNDER: In his first NFL game, Ravens top draft pick left tackle Ronnie Stanley jumped offside on third-and-1 early in the first quarter. On Baltimore’s next possession, the team’s top pick in 2015, Breshad Perriman, made his first NFL reception with a leaping grab at the sideline for a 35-yard gain. Perriman missed the entire 2015 season with a knee injury.
WHERE’S WATKINS?: One reason Taylor was so successful last year was he utilized Sammy Watkins as a deep threat. Watkins was practically invisible during the first half, making only two short receptions for a total of 13 yards. Watkins finished with four catches for 43 yards.
SMITH & SUGGS RETURN: Ravens receiver Steve Smith and Suggs returned to regular-season action after having their 2015 season cut short by torn Achilles tendons. Smith caught five passes for 19 yards and stands 53 yards short of passing James Lofton for 10th place on the career list. Suggs had a sack.
NO HAPPY RETURNS: In his debut with the Ravens, Devin Hester, one of the great kick returners in NFL history, took back two kickoffs for 18 yards and two punts for 0 yards.
QUOTABLE: Someone asked Harbaugh to describe Flacco’s stature in the pocket coming off a serious injury: “Joe is as tough as a $2 steak. What’s a $2 steak nowadays?”
McCoy, who scored his 60th career TD: “It was a bad day. We didn’t get nothing going sideways. “We had one long drive and that was it.”
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