Ravens set points record in 55-20 rout of Raiders

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Ravens set points record in 55-20 rout of Raiders

BALTIMORE (AP) The Baltimore Ravens waited two months to put together a complete game.

It finally happened, in record-breaking fashion, and the timing couldn't have been better.

Joe Flacco threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns, Jacoby Jones ran a kickoff 105 yards, and Baltimore set a club record for points in a 55-20 rout of the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

It was a rare blowout for the AFC North-leading Ravens, who won their previous five games by a total of 23 points.

Next up: The Pittsburgh Steelers on the road next Sunday night.

``We focused all week on the Raiders, but in the back of our minds we knew the Steelers were coming,'' offensive tackle Michael Oher said. ``It's always good when you can score a lot of points. It's something to build on.''

The Ravens (7-2) scored on six of their first seven possessions, special teams contributed two touchdowns and Torrey Smith caught TD passes of 47 and 20 yards.

And the defense did its part, even though defensive tackle Haloti Ngata sat out the game with a bruised shoulder and cornerback Jimmy Smith stayed on the sideline with a groin injury. Baltimore was already without injured linebacker Ray Lewis and cornerback Lardarius Webb.

``It's a confidence booster on all ends,'' running back Ray Rice said. ``When you have a defense without Haloti and Ray Lewis, you can see those guys really stepped up. In addition, offense excelled in the pass today.''

Burned for 251 yards on the ground last week by Tampa Bay rookie Doug Martin in a 42-32 defeat, Oakland shored up its run defense to stop Rice. So Flacco went to the air, repeatedly hitting tight ends Dennis Pitta and Ed Dickson over the middle in the first half before going long and outside to Smith in the third quarter.

Flacco went 21 for 33 and did not play in the fourth quarter.

Rice ran for 35 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. He finished the afternoon with 5,034 yards rushing for his career, joining Jamal Lewis as the only players in Ravens history to top 5,000.

Flacco and the resurgent Baltimore offense made it look easy against the struggling Raiders (3-6), who have yielded at least 40 points in two straight games for the first time since 1962. The 55 points tied an Oakland record for points allowed, set in 1961 and matched in 1981.

``We had too many mental errors on defense, gave up too many big plays, we turned the ball over too many times and we didn't execute on special teams,'' Raiders coach Dennis Allen said. ``When you do those things, it generally results in something like that.''

It all added up to the Ravens' most lopsided win since a 44-13 dismantling of Cincinnati in the season opener.

Baltimore led 27-10 at halftime. In the third quarter, Smith scored twice and holder Sam Koch scored on a fake field goal to make it 48-17.

In the fourth quarter, Jones scored on a kickoff return for the second time this season for a 55-20 lead. Baltimore's previous record for points in a game was 48, against Detroit in December 2009.

``Obviously, we had success,'' said Flacco, who also ran for a score. ``We ran the game plan and it worked well. We stuck with it. We scored points early and continued to score them.''

Baltimore has 15 straight home wins, the longest current streak in the NFL. They haven't been 7-2 since 2006.

Carson Palmer went 29 for 45 for 368 yards and two touchdowns for Oakland. He was mercifully pulled in the fourth quarter.

``Rough, rough, rough, rough game,'' Palmer said. ``We didn't play any good in any facet of the game. Came in and got outplayed by a good football team. It's very frustrating. We got to put this one in our rear view mirror, because it's going to be a tough one to get past.''

Playing without injured running backs Darren McFadden and Mike Goodson, the Raiders gained only 72 yards on the ground.

Baltimore didn't punt until the third quarter, and even that turned out well. Phillip Adams fumbled, the Ravens recovered the ball and Flacco promptly threw a touchdown pass to Smith.

Later in the quarter, Koch ran 7 yards for a touchdown to cap a 74-yard drive.

NOTES: Oakland LB Travis Goethel left in the first quarter with a knee injury and did not return. Oakland CB Michael Huff was kicked in calf, and S Matt Giordano and TE Brandon Myers sustained concussions. ... Baltimore is 7-1 against Oakland (including playoffs) and 5-0 at home. ... Jones is the first Ravens player to have two KO returns for TDs.

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AFC North: Will Steelers RB Bell stay healthy this season?

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AFC North: Will Steelers RB Bell stay healthy this season?

Here’s a key AFC North question. Will Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell stay healthy?

Bell is without question one of the league’s most talented backs. However, knee injuries have ended his season the past two years, leaving the Steelers without him when they were eliminated from the playoffs.

De’Angelo Williams did a superb job in place of Bell last season, rushing for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns. But Bell is a better pass receiver and more elusive – capable of turning almost any play in to a big play. In 2014, Bell had over 2,000 yards combined from scrimmage – 1,316 yards rushing and 854 yards receiving.

Bell doesn’t want to be labeled as injury-prone, yet some people already view him that way. But at Steelers OTA’s, Bell showed up looking healthy, while vowing not to run cautiously next season.

“I’m going to be physical,” Bell told ESPN.com. “I’m out here with no knee brace or anything, didn’t wear a sleeve or anything. I’ve been training my knee for everything I’m about to go through, so when September gets here I’ll be even better than I am now. That’s even crazy to think about. But I’m excited.”

When Bell has been healthy, putting up numbers has not been a problem. The more Bell plays next season, the better the Steelers’ chances of making the playoffs.

Urschel spends his spring getting straight A's at MIT

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Urschel spends his spring getting straight A's at MIT

If the NFL had an All-Academic team, Ravens offensive lineman John Urschel would be on it.

In February, Urschel began the Ph.D program in mathematics at MIT. How’s he doing so far? Here’s a hint. When it comes to grades, Urschel is only familiar with one letter in the alphabet.

“My first semester in school in nearly three years,” Urschel wroter on Twitter. “Four PhD classes at MIT. Four A’s. The streak continues!!!”

Entering his third season with the Ravens, Urschel has found a way to juggle his love for football with his love for mathematics. He posted an interesting article on The Players Tribune this week in which he described training with the football team at MIT this spring.

“I probably had about 50 or 60 pounds on the biggest guy on MIT’s O-line,” Urschel wrote. “But when we ran, they put me to shame. They could outsprint me.

“What I found is that the team at MIT is no joke. It is a football team – in some ways, more of a football team than any I’d ever seen. These guys love football. They are playing the game because they want to. No one is making them come to practice, no one is checking up on them. They know as well as anyone about head injuries; they know that football is dangerous; they know the feeling of exhaustion and pain. They still play. They don’t do it for money, and they don’t do it for status.

“We talk about dedication and passion in the pros, but the truth is, sometimes the game feels like a job. You start to think of the paycheck. You feel the grind. But training with the team at MIT, I started thinking about what had drawn me to football as a kid. It felt like a game again. I had thought I might have something to teach the team. I never imagined they’d have so much to teach me.”

That guy in the Dos Equis beer commercials might be the most interesting man in the world. But Urschel has built a strong resume as the most interesting player on the Ravens.

RELATED: NFL ANNOUNCES LOCATIONS FOR 2019, 2020 AND 2021 SUPER BOWLS

NFL announces locations for 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls

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NFL announces locations for 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls

The NFL has decided on the locations of the 2019, 2020 and 2021 Super Bowls. The vote took place at the NFL owners meetings in Charlotte on Tuesday. 

Atlanta will host Super Bowl LIII in 2019, while South Florida (Miami) will get the event in 2020 and Los Angeles will host in 2021. 

The cities chosen each included new or upgraded stadiums in their pitches to the league. 

Atlanta will be home to the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium, opening in 2017. 

Miami's stadium (Sun Life Stadium from 2010-2016) is undergoing a $400 million renovation that will include an open-air canopy to provide shade for 92 percent of seats, according to Sports Illustrated. Construction should be complete before the 2017 season. 

And Los Angeles will boast a new 300-acre, campus-style stadium housing the Rams and potentially a second team. The $2.6 billion project will be the most expensive sports arena in the world, reports CNN, and should be ready before the 2019 NFL season.