Flacco, Wallace help Ravens top Raiders
OAKLAND, Calif. — The Baltimore Ravens were looking for a spark Sunday after back-to-back disheartening losses to Jacksonville and Pittsburgh by a combined score of 70-16.
The Ravens got one on their first play from scrimmage against the Oakland Raiders.
Joe Flacco completed a 52-yard pass to wide receiver Mike Wallace, igniting a 75-yard touchdown drive.
Flacco passed for 222 yards, Wallace caught three passes for 133 yards, and the Ravens ended a two-game losing streak with a 30-17 victory against the Raiders at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Wallace beat Raiders cornerback Sean Smith on a go-route down the left sideline for a first down at the Oakland 23.
“We got some looks we liked today,” Wallace said. “We started out, right out of the gates. It was great. I was hyped when I saw the play call. I thought, ‘I got to win.’ You have to. You can’t get a play-call like that and not win. They might not want to call it again.”
Cornerback Jimmy Smith scored on a 47-yard fumble return in the first quarter for the Ravens (3-2), who moved into a tie with the Pittsburgh Steelers for first place in the AFC North.
Flacco completed 19 of 26 passes and ended his streak of 10 straight games with at least one interception. He had six interceptions in his first four games this season, including two in each of his past two games.
“Every game is big, every win is big,” Flacco said. “This one is a little more significant for what it does for the mentality and confidence of the football team.”
The Raiders (2-3) lost their third straight game and played without quarterback Derek Carr, who broke a small bone in his back in their previous game against Denver.
Quarterback EJ Manuel made his first start as a Raider and 18th of his career. He completed 13 of 26 passes for 159 yards and one touchdown. Wide receiver Michael Crabtree caught six passes for 82 yards and a touchdown.
“I thought he did a pretty solid job as a backup guy coming into a tough situation and handled himself well,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said of Manuel. “We’ve got to do more defensively to get him more opportunities.”
The Ravens built a 24-10 halftime lead, but Oakland cut it to 24-17 on Marshawn Lynch’s 3-yard touchdown run with 3:46 left in the third quarter. Manuel scrambled 10 yards on third-and-9 from the 13, setting up Lynch’s score.
Baltimore answered with a 12-play, 72-yard drive, setting up Justin Tucker’s 21-yard field goal to make it 27-17 with 13:10 left to play. Flacco threw a key 27-yard strike to Wallace on third-and-8 from the Ravens’ 47 that extended the drive.
The Raiders punted on fourth-and-3 from their 44 with under nine minutes left, and Baltimore drove 54 yards in 13 plays for Tucker’s 44-yard field goal with 2:24 left to make it 30-17.
“Hindsight is always 20/20 on things like that,” Del Rio said of his decision to punt. “You’re thinking you’re going to pin them inside the 10. We didn’t. You’re thinking the defense will get us the ball back. We didn’t. A fourth-down call with nine minutes left in the game, was that the difference today? I don’t think so.”
The Ravens rolled to a 14-point first-half lead as Flacco completed 11 of 15 passes for 164 yards and Wallace caught two passes for 106.
“We battled, we got stops when we needed (them),” Ravens free safety Eric Weddle said. “We put a couple new blitzes in there that showed up.”
Baltimore took the opening kickoff and drove 75 yards in five plays for Vince Mayle’s 2-yard touchdown run on an end around with 12:45 left in the first quarter.
The Ravens increased their lead to 14-0 with 11:10 left in the first quarter on Smith’s fumble return for a touchdown. Linebacker Patrick Onwuasor stripped Raiders tight end Jared Cook after a 3-yard catch, and Smith headed the other way.
Oakland cut Baltimore’s lead to 14-3 on Giorgio Tavecchio’s 32-yard field goal with 5:59 left in the quarter.
The Ravens answered with a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive with Javorius Allen plunging in from the 1 to make it 21-3 with 11:57 left in the first half.
“I think we’re just facing adversity now,” Raiders linebacker Bruce Irvin said. “It’s not the first time I’ve been in a situation like this. It’s the fifth game. We have 11 more games. We have time to turn it around. We have to come into work and take this serious or we’ll continue to lose.”
Oakland sliced the Ravens’ lead to 21-10 on Manuel’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Crabtree with 9:11 left in the first half.
Flacco hit Wallace for 54 yards, setting up Tucker’s 22-yard field goal with 5:18 left.
NOTES: Ravens RB Terrance West injured his calf with 13:36 remaining in the first quarter and did not return to the game. ... Ravens RG Matt Skura left the game midway through the third quarter with a knee injury and did not return. Rookie G Jermaine Eluemunor took his place. ... Raiders starting MLB Marquel Lee sustained a left ankle injury with 14:48 left to play and did not return. ... Raiders CB Antonio Hamilton (knee), OLB Cory James (knee) and FB Jamize Olawale (concussion) were all unable to return to action after injuries.