BALTIMORE, Maryland (AFP) –
Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns as the Ravens opened their NFL season with a convincing 44-13 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Ray Rice ran for two touchdowns, Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin each caught a touchdown pass and Ed Reed returned an interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to aid the Raven’s cause in the AFC North division showdown.
It was Flacco’s fifth opening day win in five NFL seasons, and the win made the Ravens the only AFC North team to get into the win column in the first week of the season. Pittsburgh and Cleveland both lost on Sunday.
The Ravens finished last season with 12-4 record, eventually falling in the American Football Conference championship game defeat to New England.
Cincinnati also reached the playoffs last year thanks in part to rookie quarterback Andy Dalton.
Dalton’s sophomore season got off to a rocky start as he threw for 221 yards with one interception and a fumble.
Reed picked off Dalton’s pass intended for Brandon Tate late in the third quarter and returned it 34 yards for a TD. In the first game of his 12th season Reed became the NFL’s leader in career interception return yards with 1,497, surpassing Rod Woodson at the top of the list.
The Ravens kept the pressure on and Ray Lewis forced Dalton to fumble on the second play of the fourth quarter.
With the game well in hand, the Ravens sent Flacco to the bench midway through the fourth period. He watched as backup Tyrod Taylor led a drive capped by a 39-yard field goal to round off the victory.
In a second game on Monday, the San Diego Chargers capped the opening week of the 2012 season with a 22-14 victory over the Oakland Raiders.