Baltimore takes a big lead and never looks back
Alex Collins scored the first touchdown of the game on the opening drive and John Brown added another inside the first quarter. Michael Crabtree’s first touchdown as a Raven came in the second quarter and Baltimore went on to dominate the game.
Willie Snead’s catch in the end zone ensured all three of Flacco’s new wide-receivers had touchdowns in the game. Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson led the offence on an eight-minute drive in the final quarter, with Kenneth Dixon completing the scoring at M&T Bank Stadium. The Ravens narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season, after a defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals, which meant the Bills took the final wildcard spot in the AFC.
Whether this was on the players’ and staff’s minds going into the game is another matter, but Baltimore started with the ball and marched 80-yards up to the other end of the field.
Flacco found tight-end Nick Boyle twice in the opening drive for big gains and it was rounded off as Collins rushed up the middle for an eight-yard touchdown.
It was time for the Baltimore defense to make their mark, and that they did as they forced the Bills into back-to-back three-and-outs. John Harbaugh’s side scored on their third drive of the game, towards the end of the first quarter. Flacco linked up well with both of his tight-ends, Boyle and Mark Andrews on the drive. Facing a third-and-goal situation, the Ravens quarterback found a wide-open Brown at the back of the end zone for his first touchdown since signing in the offseason.
The Bills were forced to punt in their first possession of the second quarter and Janarion Grant returned the ball 54-yards, which set up a Justin Tucker field goal.
Buffalo’s biggest chance to get on the board came when the ball was stripped from Collins’ arms, but Baltimore’s defense stood strong and Stephen Hauschka missed a 52-yard field goal attempt.
The Bills offense remains non-existent during the second half
Nathan Peterman threw his first interception of the game just before half-time, a really loose pass went over the head of the receiver and was picked off by Tony Jefferson – Tucker’s 39-yard field goal was good soon after. The Bills were struggling on offense, Baltimore were playing hard on defence and were not allowing them any time whatsoever. Buffalo were punished further before the half finished.
Flacco marched his offense down the field once more and found Crabtree at the back of the end zone, the wide-receiver done well to drag his second foot inbounds for his first touchdown as a Raven.
Buffalo failed to pick up a first-down in the first-half, but running-back LeSean McCoy managed to pick one up straight away in the third quarter. Corey Bojorquez spilled the ball as he was going to punt away and the Ravens managed to gather the ball and force another turnover. This led to Flacco throwing a bullet pass to Snead in the end zone, the third new receiver to score a touchdown in the game.
Things went from bad to worse for Peterman and the Bills. The quarterback threw another interception, this time the ball was picked off by Brandon Carr, who returned the ball to the Buffalo two-yard line.
On the next play, the Ravens notched up their fifth touchdown of the afternoon. Javorius Allen rushed up the middle from one-yard with 11:22 still to play in the third quarter.
This brought about changes from both teams, the Bills took out Peterman and put in Josh Allen for his first taste of NFL action, while Jackson came in at quarterback for the home side. Buffalo’s only points of the game were scored towards the back end of the quarter, Hauschka's 35-yard field goal attempt was good.
With the sizeable lead, the Ravens were fortunate that they could rest some of their starters. Rookie quarterback Jackson showed some metal in the final quarter as he led an eight-minute drive, which was rounded off as Dixon rushed into the end zone from two-yards.
Baltimore have a divisional match next up as they travel to Cincinnati on Thursday, while Buffalo return back home to welcome the Los Angeles Chargers next Sunday.