- Associated Press - Sunday, November 28, 2010

BALTIMORE | The Baltimore Ravens took care of business in workmanlike fashion against a team they hadn’t played in years.

By doing so, the Ravens put themselves in perfect position for an emotional matchup against a team they know all too well.

Joe Flacco threw two touchdown passes, and Baltimore beat Tampa Bay 17-10 Sunday in their first meeting since 2006.

The Ravens (8-3) improved to 5-0 at home this season and remained tied atop the AFC North with Pittsburgh. Baltimore will be striving for its franchise-record ninth straight home win next Sunday night against the Steelers.

“The message is simple for us: We haven’t lost at home, so let’s defend that,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “We take care of that, everything else take care of itself.

“From our side and their side, there is no talking that has to be done. We’ve been playing each other a long time and now it comes down to one of those showdown games.”

Next week’s game wouldn’t have been nearly as important if the Ravens didn’t win this one.

“I don’t think you ever want to diminish this victory,” coach John Harbaugh said. “It’s one we really need to get where we’re going. It’s a game that bridged us into December. It gives us an opportunity to accomplish some things. We’re playing the biggest game of the year.”

Flacco connected with Todd Heap for a 65-yard score and hit Derrick Mason for a 10-yard touchdown during a three-minute span of the second quarter to stake Baltimore to a 17-3 halftime lead. Flacco now has 53 career TD passes, surpassing Vinny Testaverde (51) for most in Ravens history.

“Vinny didn’t play here that long (two years), so it’s not really that much of an accomplishment,” Flacco said. “Hopefully, I can make that a little bit higher for somebody else to break in the future sometime.”

Flacco completed 25 of 35 passes for 289 yards and had a 76-yard touchdown throw to Ray Rice called back because of a block in the back by Anquan Boldin.

Tampa Bay (7-4) still has not beaten a team with a winning record. The Buccaneers have lost to New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Atlanta and Baltimore by a combined 113-50 score.

“That doesn’t factor into anything. We’re a team with a winning record,” cornerback Ronde Barber said. “We’re just playing. You like to win them all, regardless of who the opponent is.”

Coming close didn’t make the defeat any easier to take.

“There’s no positives,” Barber said. “You either find a way to win or you don’t — and we didn’t today.”

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