TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens reverted to winning ways with a vengeance.
Still smarting from a subpar road performance that ended a three-game winning streak, Flacco was nearly flawless Sunday in leading a 48-17 rout of the struggling Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Baltimore (4-2) scored on six straight possessions to begin the game, with Flacco becoming the first NFL quarterback to throw five touchdown passes in the opening half since Tom Brady did it in 2009 on the way to New England beating Tennessee 59-0.
Torrey Smith caught the first two, and Kamar Aiken, Michael Campanaro and Steve Smith followed for a 35-0 lead early in the second quarter.
Tampa Bay (1-5) trailed 38-0 at halftime and was embarrassed for the second time in six games under coach Lovie Smith. The Bucs were beaten 56-14 at Atlanta on Sept. 18, but rebounded from that debacle with a win over Pittsburgh and an overtime loss at New Orleans, outings that left Smith feeling his team was headed in the right direction.
Flacco was sacked four times and Baltimore was just 1 of 11 on third-down conversions a week ago in a disappointing 20-13 loss at Indianapolis, however the offense was in synch from the very start against the Bucs’ porous Tampa2 defense.
With help from Justin Forsett’s 52-yard run on the second play from scrimmage, the Ravens moved 80 yards in four plays to take a quick lead on Flacco’s 15-yard scoring pass to Torrey Smith. His next three TD throws — 9 yards to Torrey Smith, 17 yards to Aiken and 19 yards to Campanaro — came on third-down throws.
Steve Smith is Baltimore’s leading receiver, but was hardly involved until he beat cornerback Alterraun Verner deep down the left sideline for a 56-yard score that made it 35-0 just over a minute into the second quarter. It was the 14th-year pro seventh career TD against the Bucs.
The Ravens said it also was the fastest — 16:03 — that any NFL player has thrown for five TDs in a game. When the Bucs finally stopped Flacco for the first time, forcing Baltimore to settle for Justin Tucker’s 46-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, Tampa Bay safety Bradley McDougald raised his right fist in triumph.
Flacco finished 21 of 29 passes for 306 yards with no interceptions. He was barely pressured by the Tampa Bay pass rush and was not sacked.
The Ravens outgained the Bucs 347 yards to 101 in rolling to their big halftime lead. The Bucs broke through with a 47-yard field goal early in the third quarter and Mike Glennon threw touchdown passes of 17 yards to Mike Evans and 3 yards to Louis Murphy.
Glennon went 24 of 44 for 314 yards, two TDs and one interception in his third start of the season for the Bucs, who lost Josh McCown to a thumb injury during its lopsided loss to Atlanta.
In addition to Jimmy Smith’s first-quarter interception which set up Baltimore’s second touchdown, the Ravens sacked Glennon five times for 37 yards.
Steve Smith finished with five catches for 110 yards, his eighth 100-yard day against Tampa Bay, a team he tormented for 13 seasons as a member of the Carolina Panthers. Forsett rushed for 111 yards on 14 carries.
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