On an afternoon that belonged to Rex Ryan and his tenacious Baltimore defense, the unquestionable highlight was a 43-yard pass from one Ravens quarterback to another.
Baltimore limited the Oakland Raiders to 35 yards while building a 19-point halftime lead, and the Ravens got a safety and four sacks in a 29-10 victory Sunday.
The win was particularly sweet for Ryan, whose twin brother Rob is defensive coordinator for the Raiders (2-5).
It’s a friendly rivalry, but one for bragging rights in a football family featuring former NFL coach Buddy Ryan as patriarch.
Rob Ryan was forced to deal with a surprise wrinkle. The Ravens (4-3) unveiled their own version of the single wing, inserting Troy Smith at quarterback and using starting quarterback Joe Flacco as the wide receiver on the left side.
Smith ran three times for 13 yards and once pitched the ball to rookie Ray Rice, who tacked on 19 yards. But the biggest play came in the third quarter, when Smith heaved a pass down the sideline to Flacco, who made an excellent grab on the run after getting behind linebacker Ricky Brown.
The completion set up a field goal for a 22-3 lead.
As a passer, Flacco was a modest 12-for-24 for 140 yards and a touchdown. But he ran for a late score and led an offense that had only one turnover: a fumble by Willis McGahee at the Baltimore 43 with 8:45 left.
The Ravens’ defense, however, prevented the Raiders from capitalizing.
JaMarcus Russell went 15-for-33 for 228 yards and an interception. The Raiders’ ground game was even more helpless, managing only 47 yards.
Baltimore held a 221-35 advantage in first-half yardage in building a 19-0 lead.
The Ravens opened the scoring with the first safety against the Raiders since 2000. After Sam Koch punted to the Oakland 7, Russell was sacked in the end zone on third down.
The Raiders ran 12 plays in the first quarter and finished with minus-2 yards. Russell was sacked twice and Justin Fargas gained 16 yards on eight carries.
Baltimore went up 9-0 in the second quarter. Jim Leonhard returned a punt 46 yards to the Oakland 17 to set up a 1-yard touchdown by McGahee.
The Ravens made it 16-0 when Flacco found a wide-open Demetrius Williams on the left sideline for a 70-yard touchdown. The score completed a 97-yard drive that followed an interception by Frank Walker.
Matt Stover added a 38-yard field goal late in the half after Flacco hit Rice for 14 yards on third-and-12.
Rice touched the ball five times in the first half, making a first down on each occasion.