BALTIMORE — A celebration four weeks in the making featured laughs and hugs, a surprise appearance by team owner Steve Bisciotti and the distribution of hats announcing the Baltimore Ravens‘ stature as AFC North champions.
“It feels good,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said in the upbeat locker room. “I’m just glad we finally got it done.”
Playing its second game with Jim Caldwell as offensive coordinator, Baltimore scored touchdowns on its first two possessions and amassed a season-high 533 yards — 289 in the first half alone.
“It’s about execution, man. It’s a simple word, but it’s a very tough task to do,” said running back Ray Rice, who ran for 107 yards and caught six passes for 51 yards and a touchdown. “This was a championship game for us.”
After ending their longest losing streak since 2009, the Ravens are assured a home playoff game on the first weekend of January.
“We know what’s at stake. We want the AFC championship and it starts tonight,” safety James Ihedigbo said. “We’re not looking at regular season. Playoffs started for us and we’re going to keep on playing.”
The defeat eliminated the defending Super Bowl champion Giants (8-7) from contention in the NFC East and severely damaged their chances of qualifying for the playoffs.
New York has lost five of seven and was coming off a 34-0 defeat at Atlanta. In this one, Manning went 14 for 28 for 150 yards and was sacked three times.
“Obviously, we have a bad formula going on right here,” coach Tom Coughlin said. “We’re having trouble stopping people and our offense doesn’t hold the ball at all to give the defense a chance to catch their breath. We’ve had two games in a row, pretty much the exact same scenario.”
Flacco, meanwhile, rebounded from a stretch in which he committed two turnovers in each of Baltimore’s three straight defeats. He completed 25 of 36 passes, ran for a score and did not throw an interception or lose a fumble.
He repeatedly picked on cornerback Corey Webster, who simply couldn’t contain Smith or Anquan Boldin. Smith caught five passes for 88 yards and a touchdown, and Boldin finished with seven receptions for 93 yards.
Backup Bernard Pierce gained 123 yards as part of a running attack that generated 224 yards.
Baltimore’s defense was also impressive despite missing injured linebackers Ray Lewis and Jameel McClain, along with safety Bernard Pollard.