It didn’t come as easy as expected, but the Baltimore Ravens claimed a 37-13 road win over the Carolina Panthers to remain atop the AFC North division for at least another week.

Seen as Super Bowl contenders, the Ravens (7-3) are clearly more talented than the struggling Panthers (1-9), as Baltimore leaped out to a 17-3 lead in the first half. Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was nearly perfect in the first two quarters, completing 16 of 18 passes for 213 yards, a touchdown and a 134.5 passer rating.

But Baltimore’s offense struggled for most of the second half, allowing Carolina opportunities to stay alive. The Panthers struggled offensively as well, but eventually made a big play at the top of the fourth quarter with an 88-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Brian St. Pierre to receiver David Gettis to cut the Ravens’ lead to 20-13. Unfortunately for the Panthers, their chance at an upset victory waned after a pair of interceptions returned for scores late in the fourth quarter.

The game was over when…
Ravens star safety Ed Reed picked off St. Pierre’s pass and returned it several yards before pitching it back to teammate Dawan Landry, who returned the ball 23 yards for a touchdown. The defensive score gave Baltimore a very comfortable 30-13 lead with little time left in the game.

Most Outstanding Player of the Game:
Nine-year veteran Ed Reed proved he’s still one of the most exciting defensive players in the NFL with his clutch interception against Carolina. It marked his fourth interception in the four games he has played this season, and 50th interception of his career. Reed is now the fourth player in NFL history with at least 50 interceptions to average at least 20 yards per interception return. He’s also third all-time in return yards with 1,338, trailing only Rod Woodson and Darren Sharper.

Unsung Player of the Game:

The Ravens were without starting right guard Chris Chester, who sat out due to an unhealthy skin condition. But his replacement, Tony Moll, filled in well, helping Baltimore limit Carolina to only three sacks and holding off their pass rush. Flacco had plenty of time to throw the ball throughout the game, and Moll, who has not started a game since 2008, played like he hadn’t missed a game all season long.

More Game Notes:

Baltimore limited Carolina to just 150 yards passing, a successful bounce-back performance after last week’s debacle against the Atlanta Falcons. But while the secondary played well, the Ravens’ defensive front-seven allowed Panthers tailback Mike Goodson to rush for 120 yards on 22 carries. Goodson is only the second running back to rush for 100 yards against Baltimore this season, and just the third running back to do so in more than 50 games. Despite allowing Goodson to eclipse the 100-yard mark, Ravens’ defensive captain Ray Lewis still performed well, intercepting a pass and returning it for a 24-yard touchdown. It was Lewis’ 30th career interception and first touchdown score since the 2003 season.

Next Up:

Baltimore will host the red-hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3) at M&T Bank Stadium at 4:15 p.m. on Nov. 28, while Carolina will travel to Ohio to take on the Cleveland Browns (3-7).


Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor