Ravens, Rice run past Broncos, 31-17
AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE – The top-ranked passing game in the NFL was no match for the Baltimore Ravens, who disposed of the Denver Broncos in typical lopsided fashion.
Ray Rice ran for 133 yards and two touchdowns, and the Ravens frustrated Denver quarterback Kyle Orton in a 31-17 victory Sunday.
Baltimore (4-1) jumped to a 17-0 lead and coasted to its third straight win, the first this season by double digits. The Ravens moved past idle Pittsburgh into sole possession of first place in the AFC North.
The Broncos (2-3) fell to 0-5 against the Ravens in Baltimore. In those games, Denver has been outscored 142-56, including 60-24 over the last two years.
Orton completed his fourth straight 300-yard passing game with a 44-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Lloyd with 35 seconds left. It was of little consolation to the Broncos, who hurt themselves by losing a fumble and committing 10 penalties for 90 yards.
What was billed as a duel between the best passing game in the league and the No. 1 passing defense turned into a mismatch.
Orton went 23 for 38 for 314 yards and two touchdowns, both to Lloyd. But Denver never got closer than 10 points after the Ravens went up by 17 with 9:21 left in the second quarter.
Baltimore’s Joe Flacco completed 14 of 25 passes for 196 yards and ran for a score. Unlike Orton, he was backed by a solid running game.
The Ravens led 17-7 at halftime after keeping the Broncos from crossing the 50-yard line until after the two-minute warning.
A 58-yard pass from Flacco to tight end Ed Dickson helped the Ravens move to the Denver 1 on their opening possession. The drive fizzled when Willis McGahee was twice stuffed at the line and Jason Hunter sacked Flacco on fourth down.
Baltimore got it right on its second try, marching 73 yards to go up 7-0. Flacco went 4 for 4 for 51 yards before sneaking in from the 1, his first touchdown since Oct. 26, 2008.
The Ravens again forced a punt, then scored another touchdown. After Denver’s Perrish Cox was called for pass interference in the end zone, Rice took it in from the 1.
First-round draft pick Demaryius Thomas fumbled the ensuing kickoff when hit by Jason Phillips, a collision that forced Thomas from the game with head and neck injuries. Baltimore recovered at the 20, and a field goal by Billy Cundiff made it 17-0.
The Broncos finally broke through with 48 seconds left in the half on a 42-yard pass from Orton to Lloyd, who made a diving catch in the back of the end zone.
In the fourth quarter, after Rice scored on a 1-yard run, Matt Prater kicked a field goal for Denver to make it 24-10.
McGahee iced the victory with a 30-yard touchdown run with 5:06 remaining.
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