OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) - It’s very rare that an NFL team builds a 38-point halftime lead, gets five touchdown passes from its quarterback and coasts to a 31-point victory.
Doing it on the road is even more unique, especially for the Baltimore Ravens.
The Ravens, who won only two away games in 2013, matched that number Sunday with a 48-17 rout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“We didn’t play very well on the road last year,” coach John Harbaugh conceded Monday. “I mean, how good were we on the road last season? What was our record?”
Told that Baltimore went 2-6, Harbaugh said, “I’d like to do better than that this year. We’ve still got work to do, and we’ve got plenty of chances.”
The Ravens’ struggle on the road last year contributed heavily to an 8-8 record that ended the team’s run of five straight playoff appearances. This season, Baltimore won at Cleveland 23-21 and put up a fight in a 20-13 defeat at Indianapolis before breezing past the Bucs.
In the midst of a run of four road games in a five-week span, the Ravens (4-2) host Atlanta (2-4) on Sunday.
Asked if the blowout win over Tampa Bay provided his team with some momentum for the game against the Falcons, Harbaugh thought a bit before responding, “Maybe.”
He added: “I think you’ve got to look past the result and look where you need to improve. You can build on good things and you build on not good things.”
There weren’t many items from the latter category against Tampa Bay. Most notable among the positives were Joe Flacco’s five TD passes in the first half - only two fewer than he totaled in his first five games.
“I think that’s a first for me,” the seventh-year quarterback said. “Definitely, I have never thrown four touchdown passes in the first quarter and added a fifth in the second quarter. It was fun, all good stuff.”
Flacco was the first player since Tommy Kramer in 1986 to throw four touchdown passes in the first quarter and the first player with five touchdown passes in the first half since Tom Brady in 2009.
“It was a historic performance,” Harbaugh said. “It’s good (that) the football world could see what Joe is capable of in that way. He’s that kind of a player.”
Despite the lopsided 38-0 score at halftime, Harbaugh saw no reason to let his team coast to the finish.
“In this league, you don’t take anything for granted,” Harbaugh said. “We understand that if we try to sit on that lead and things start going bad it can snowball on you in a hurry. Our guys were very focused; the talk in the locker room was to finish. We gave up more yards and points than we wanted to in the second half … but the heat was a factor, and we did have the big lead. Maybe guys play a little safer.”
Harbaugh scoffed at the suggestion that he pull Flacco in the third quarter.
“Absolutely not. That would, in my opinion, be foolish,” Harbaugh said.
Flacco was finally yanked with 3:42 left in the game, but not before he compiled a franchise-record 146.0 passer rating.
“That stuff feels good and looks good and it’s great and all that but it really doesn’t matter,” Flacco said. “It’s all about winning the football game.”
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