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After a disheartening loss in Jacksonville on Monday, the Baltimore Ravens (5-2) made a comeback as they edged a 30-27 victory over the visiting Arizona Cardinals (1-6) at the M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens came from a 21-point deficit to win the game, a franchise-record turnaround.
This match-up saw the N.F.L.-leading defense of the Ravens going up against the inconsistent offensive line of the Cardinals, who have already given up 18 sacks so far this season. The game started much as expected, with the linebacker trio of Jarret Johnson, Paul Kruger, and Terrell Suggs all recording sacks on Kevin Kolb early in the first quarter.
The Ravens offense, which had been woeful against the Jaguars six days earlier, appeared equally inept before a home crowd as the Cardinals raced into a surprising 24-6 lead by the end of the second quarter. With Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco throwing an interception and fumbling in the second quarter, the Cardinals punished the home side, with Beanie Wells recording his seventh rushing touchdown of the season after Darrell Dockett had recovered the ball from Flacco’s fumble.
Patrick Peterson also returned a punt for an 82-yard touchdown, whilst Kolb, looking far more confident in the second quarter, found Earl Doucet for a 10-yard touchdown pass. The Ravens managed to claw back three points with a second field goal after their no-huddle offense seemed to find its rhythm late in the second.
Offensive Coordinator Cam Cameron must have been happy with what he saw at the end of the half, and the Ravens continued to utilize the no-huddle offense, with Flacco finding wide receiver Anquan Boldin for a 37-yard reception.
The Ravens then reduced Arizona’s lead to 11 points when running back Ray Rice went over for a one-yard rushing touchdown, with the inclusion of Haloti Ngata at tight end drawing much of the defensive attention and allowing Rice to jog through a large hole. Baltimore’s defense continued to shine, with Chris Carr and Bernard Pollard both picking up sacks on the increasingly ineffective Kolb.
This took the Ravens to a total of six sacks for the game as they began to establish dominance over the Cardinals offense. This pressure resulted in the Ravens regaining possession, and Flacco and Boldin continued to flourish in the second half. Boldin, a former Cardinal, notched 80 yards on four receptions as Flacco lead his side into the redzone.
Rice then went on to collect two more touchdowns, as the running back saw much more of the ball than he had six days previously in Jacksonville. The Cardinals did kick a field goal to tie the game up, but with just seconds left on the clock, Billy Cundiff kicked a field goal of his own to earn the win for Baltimore.
After a disappointing first half, Flacco, who passed for 336 yards, and Boldin, who earned 145 yards for seven receptions, were dominant, and will need to maintain their form if they are to emerge victorious over the Steelers next week.
Suggs will also be keen to carry on from where he left off, putting in an excellent defensive performance — registering nine tackles, four assists, and a sack — as he continues to show the kind of leadership required when Ray Lewis decides to call it a day.
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