Spooked by boos, Ravens stage big rally
BALTIMORE - Before launching the biggest comeback victory in the history of the Baltimore Ravens, Joe Flacco first had to withstand the indignity of being booed by his usually supportive hometown fans.
Flacco didn’t care for the treatment, although he could appreciate the sentiment. And it didn’t prevent him from carrying the Ravens past the Arizona Cardinals, 30-27, yesterday.
Billy Cundiff kicked a 25-yard field goal as time expired, Ray Rice scored a career-high three touchdowns, and Flacco fueled the comeback with a gritty display of leadership and precise passing.
“You can take a few boos every now and then,’’ Flacco said, “especially when you come back and win the game.’’
Using a fumble by Flacco and an 82-yard punt return by Patrick Peterson, Arizona scored three touchdowns during a five-minute span of the second quarter to take a 24-3 lead.
That’s when many in the sellout crowd of 71,022 voiced their displeasure.
Baltimore (5-2) answered with a 24-point run and moved in front, 27-24, when Rice scored his third touchdown on the opening play of the fourth quarter.
Arizona (1-6) pulled even with a 45-yard field goal by Jay Feely with 8:55 left, but the Ravens won it with a 37-yard, beat-the-clock drive in the final minute.
After the Cardinals were forced to punt from deep in their territory, Baltimore took over at the Arizona 44 with 52 seconds left. A 36-yard completion from Flacco to rookie Torrey Smith moved the ball to the 5, setting the stage for Cundiff’s game-winner.
The Ravens’ previous biggest comeback win was from 19 points down against Tennessee in 2006.
“We woke up, plain and simple,’’ said former Arizona star Anquan Boldin, who caught seven passes for 145 yards and was a key contributor in the rally.
Flacco went 31 of 51 for 336 yards, and Rice ran for 63 yards on 18 carries.
Arizona has lost six straight. Four of those defeats have been by 4 points or fewer.
“It’s hard right now. Our guys are very disappointed after today’s game because it was an opportunity to do something nobody thought we could do,’’ coach Ken Whisenhunt said.
The Ravens began the second half with an 80-yard drive in which Flacco went 5 for 5, including a 37-yarder to Boldin that set up a 1-yard touchdown run by Rice to make it 24-13.
Late in the third quarter, Boldin caught passes 21, 23, 27, and 9 yards during an 88-yard march that ended with another 1-yard TD run by Rice.
On the ensuing possession, Kolb was intercepted by Jameel McClain. Three plays later, Rice ran in from the 3.