Jones’ 105-yard touchdown return early in the fourth quarter capped an afternoon of record-setting dominance for the Ravens and helplessness for the Raiders. In a 55-20 beatdown in front of an announced 71,339 at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens set a franchise record for points and got a little swagger back in preparation for next Sunday’s showdown against the second-place Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers still have to face the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday night, but the Ravens know they’ll go into next week’s game — the first of two matchups against their rival in a three-week span — with sole possession of first place in the AFC North.
“This is Ravens football. That was as close to 60 minutes as a team that we’ve played all year long,” said safety Bernard Pollard, who led a defense that forced two of the Raiders’ three turnovers, and sacked Carson Palmer three times. “I just really believe that we have to continue this. We have to continue to stack these weeks.”
In winning for the 15th consecutive time at home and improving to 7-2 for the first time in the John Harbaugh era and the second time in franchise history, the Ravens had a 10-point lead at the end of the first quarter, a 27-10 advantage at halftime and a 48-17 spread following the third quarter. The 48 points, achieved when Koch ran in the fake field goal and then celebrated with an emphatic spike, tied the record for the most points in franchise history and there was still more than 20 minutes to play.
Jones then set the record about eight minutes later when he became the first Raven in team history to have two kickoff return touchdowns both for a season and for a career. He celebrated the score with a dance in the back of the end zone. He may have exerted more energy on the dance than on the touchdown because once he broke free from the initial wave, Jones wasn’t touched. Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski pulled up as Jones sprinted by, knowing that he had no chance to catch him.
“I was surprised that it got that way early, but obviously they’re banged up and we wanted to come out there and try to get a win,” said Rice, who had 35 yards rushing and 33 yards receiving. “But to score 55 and everybody’s involved, it felt pretty good.”
Shrugging off consecutive subpar performances on the road, Flacco completed 21 of 33 passes for 341 yards, three touchdowns and one interception before giving way to backup Tyrod Taylor early in the fourth quarter. Smith caught just two passes, but both went for touchdowns — the 47-yarder on just the third play of the third quarter, and a 20-yarder about four minutes later on the next play after the Raiders fumbled a punt.