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(Sunday, September 26th)
Final Score: Baltimore 24, Cleveland 17
Baltimore, MD (Sports Network) - Joe Flacco threw for 262 yards on 22-of-31 passing, including a trio of touchdown passes to Anquan Boldin, as the Ravens rallied to defeat the pesky Browns, 24-17, in Baltimore's 2010 home opener from M&T Bank Stadium.
Flacco, who struggled mightily by throwing four interceptions in last Sunday's loss at Cincinnati, rebounded by leading a victory in which he committed no turnovers. His third scoring hook-up of the day with Boldin, a 27-yard lob with 9:13 to play in the fourth quarter, provided the Ravens (2-1) with the winning points.
"Obviously, you're a lot happier this week than you were last week," said Flacco. "There's a lot of good players around the league, and sometimes teams play really well, and sometimes teams don't play well. You've got to realize that as a player, and do everything you can to get better, and come out and have a better performance next week, and that's what we did."
Boldin finished with eight receptions for 142 yards, and his three touchdowns matched the career-high the then-Cardinal established in an Arizona win over the Dolphins on Sept. 14, 2008.
"It felt great," said Boldin of the performance, which came in his formal home debut as a Raven. "The crowd was unbelievable. I played here only once in my career as a Cardinal, probably about three years ago. To go out and have a performance like that, it felt good."
The late heroics of the Ravens offense helped snuff out an upset bid by the Browns (0-3), whose loss wasted a yeoman's effort for running back Peyton Hillis. Hillis, filling in for injured starter Jerome Harrison (thigh), made the most of his first start in a Cleveland uniform by carrying 22 times for 144 yards and a touchdown. The former Bronco also caught seven passes for 36 yards out of the backfield.
"I really think that Peyton is a talented guy," said Browns coach Eric Mangini. "And we put the football in his hands and really liked him, [having] played against him in the past, I think his potential is extremely high."
Harrison wasn't the only Browns backup who made a splash on Sunday, as quarterback Seneca Wallace nearly engineered his first victory in a Cleveland uniform. The ex-Seahawk, making his second straight start for the Browns in place of the injured Jake Delhomme (ankle), completed 18-of-24 for 141 yards with one touchdown and no turnovers.
It was Wallace's 1-yard touchdown pass to fellow Browns newcomer and tight end Benjamin Watson on the first play of the fourth quarter that gave the Browns a 17-14 lead and stunned the pro-Ravens crowd, before a heavily favored Baltimore team re-assumed control.
Following the Watson TD, the Ravens answered back when Flacco led a 10-play, 69-yard drive covering 5:41 and culminating in another Boldin TD to help Baltimore go ahead for good.
Billy Cundiff added a 49-yard field goal to provide the final points of the 24-17 affair.
"I'm proud of the way they played," said Mangini of his Browns, "the tempo, the energy, the toughness, and collectively, we have to fix what we talked about for three weeks. 'Til that's fixed, we're making it just too hard on ourselves."
The Ravens looked to be in firm control as halftime neared, building a double- digit lead on the first two scoring hook-ups between Flacco and Boldin.
The duo put the Ravens on the board with an eight-yard pass play late in the first quarter, on a 10-play, 85-yard march that answered a 38-yard field goal for Cleveland's Phil Dawson and gave Baltimore a 7-3 lead.
On the Ravens' next drive, Flacco led a a 10-play, 93-yard drive covering 5:53, culminating in a 12-yard scoring connection to Boldin to put the home team ahead, 14-3.
But the Browns took the momentum into halftime, as Hillis crashed in from one yard out to cut the deficit to 14-10. Hillis' TD, which snapped Baltimore's nine-quarter streak without a touchdown surrendered to start the season, capped off an 11-play, 83-yard drive covering 5:46 on the clock.
Hillis was a one-man wrecking crew on the drive, rushing six times for 38 yards and the touchdown while also contributing two catches for 16 yards.
Baltimore has now won five straight over Cleveland, and Ravens have also won five straight home openers...Browns are 0-3 for the fourth time in the last five years...With his eight-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, Boldin reached 600 catches faster than any player in NFL history. Boldin's 600th reception came in his 98th game, besting the previous mark of the Colts' Marvin Harrison, who reached the plateau in 102 games...Sunday marked Boldin's seventh multi-touchdown game...Hillis' touchdown was the first regular season TD against the Ravens since the Raiders' Charlie Frye threw a TD pass to tight end Zach Miller in the second quarter of a Baltimore win in Week 17 of the 2009 season...Hillis' TD also broke a Browns streak of 18 consecutive quarters without a rushing TD against the Ravens, dating back to 2007...Browns wideout Sam Aiken, who was signed by the team on Saturday to take the roster of the spot of the injured D'Qwell Jackson (pectoral) , played but did not have a catch...Ravens defensive tackle Cory Redding left the game with a concussion and did not return...Cleveland kicker Phil Dawson's 38-yard field goal in the first quarter made the Browns the 32nd and final NFL team to successfully make a field goal in 2010.
09/26 17:24:22 ET