Joe Flacco connected with Mike Wallace on two deep passes to spark Baltimore’s struggling offense, and the Jimmy Smith returned a fumble for a touchdown to beat the banged-up Oakland Raiders 30-17 on Sunday.
Flacco, who struggled to move the ball downfield in losses the past two weeks, came out firing on the opening drive for the Ravens (3-2) when he connected on a 52-yard pass to Wallace (133 yards on three receptions) that set up an early touchdown and set the table for the rest of the day.
The Raiders (2-3), playing without injured star quarterback Derek Carr and two key cornerbacks, played from behind all game as Smith returned Jared Cook‘s fumble 47 yards for a touchdown that made it 14-0 not even four minutes in.
Javorius Allen (73 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries) added a third Ravens score on a 1-yard run to push their lead to 21-3.
Backup quarterback E.J. Manuel (13-for-26 and 159 yards passing), making his fourth start in the past three seasons, threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree and led another TD drive that ended in Marshawn Lynch‘s 3-yard run, which made it 24-17 at the time.
The Ravens, who had been held to three-and-outs the first two drives of the second half, responded with a 72-yard drive capped by a Justin Tucker 21-yard field goal that gave Baltimore a 27-17 lead. Flacco converted a pair of third downs on the drive, completing a 13-yard pass to Breshad Perriman on third-and-3, and a 27-yarder to Wallace on third-and-8.
Following a 2-0 start, the Raiders have not dropped three in a row and sit 2-3 in a challenging AFC West.
The Ravens had also lost two in a row following a 2-0 start, but reversed that slide thanks to Flacco (19-for-26 and 222 yards passing) and the opportunistic defense. Eric Weddle led the defense with a teah-high seven total tackles and one pass deflection. Baltimore outgained Oakland, 365-245 total yards of offense.
INJURIES: Ravens RB Terrance West departed on the opening drive with a left calf injury following a 13-yard run. West did not return. Raiders LB Marquel Lee was taken off on a cart after injuring his right ankle in the fourth quarter.