BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Ravens vented eight months of frustration within the span of three incredibly satisfying hours.
Joe Flacco threw three touchdown passes, Haloti Ngata led an inspired defense that forced a team-record seven turnovers, and the Ravens defeated the defending AFC champion Pittsburgh Steelers 35-7 Sunday.
Ray Rice ran for 107 yards and two scores for the Ravens, who bolted to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and never let up against their bitter rivals. It was a rematch of a second-round playoff matchup last January, when the Steelers rallied to beat Baltimore 31-24.
In that game, the Ravens let a 21-7 halftime lead evaporate with three turnovers in the third quarter. This time, the Ravens got three takeaways in the third quarter to turn a 21-7 advantage into a rout.
Ngata was the driving force, causing a fumble and deflecting a pass that produced an interception. Ed Reed also picked off two passes for the Ravens, who mercilessly harassed nemesis Ben Roethlisberger.
Roethlisberger had won seven straight starts against the Ravens, but in this one he was 22 for 41 for 280 yards and three interceptions.
The loss ended Pittsburgh’s eight-game winning streak in season openers. The Steelers committed six turnovers after halftime in their most lopsided loss to Baltimore since the series began.
In the past 51 games, only twice has Pittsburgh allowed a runner to reach 100 yards. Rice did it both times.
Rice had more yards at halftime on rushes (89) and catches (38) than Pittsburgh did on its 26 offensive plays (113).