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Ravens News 10/2: Masterful Marty, dominating defense and more

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NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Ravens vs. Steelers final score, takeaways: Joe Flacco, Baltimore defense shine in huge win - Ryan Wilson

Joe Flacco is elite when he has all day in the pocket

The Ravens came into the game with the league’s No. 13 offense, according to Football Outsiders. The passing game was 11th and Flacco was 10th in total value and 13th in value per play. We’re guessing he’ll improve on both those numbers after his performance in Pittsburgh. When it was over, Flacco was 28 of 42 for 363 yards and two touchdowns. He looked comfortable from start to finish, partly because the Ravens’ offensive line is playing really well but also because the Steelers chose not to blitz. He was sacked just twice.

Flacco did exactly what franchise quarterbacks are supposed to do against bad defenses - rack up yardage and avoid mistakes. Joe displayed pinpoint accuracy on all but a few throws and is clearly comfortable in this offense.

In age of offense, Ravens defense dancing to different tune - Jamison Hensley

The Baltimore Ravens did more than shut out the Pittsburgh Steelers in the second half.

The Ravens’ 26-14 win Sunday night officially moved past two years of heartbreaking losses at Heinz Field and showed why this defense is the best in the NFL.

On Sunday, the NFL’s top-ranked defense held quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the league’s No. 2 offense to a total of 47 yards after halftime.

In today’s game in which offenses light up the scoreboard, Baltimore’s defense can still roll up its sleeves and play old-school football. Ravens coach John Harbaugh gave a game ball to first-year defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.

In six second-half series against the Steelers, the Ravens’ defense produced: punt (three-and-out), punt, punt (another three-and-out), punt, an interception and a turnover on downs. Baltimore limited Roethlisberger to 8-of-17 passing for 50 yards in the second half.

Martindale used dime personnel extensively in the second half. And once Roethlisberger lost his rhythm, he never regained it. The NFL’s second ranked defense could be even better once Jimmy Smith and Willie Henry return.

The Ravens tricked the Steelers AND the refs on this potentially illegal formation - Charles R. McDonald

The Baltimore Ravens have been getting a little bit more creative on offense this year, and they might’ve pulled their best trick so far this season in the fourth quarter of their 26-14 win against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

Baltimore lined up tight end Maxx Williams next to the center as the left guard on the play — with a caveat. Williams was inside the offensive line, but lined up just far enough off the line of scrimmage to make himself eligible as a receiver.

Retired referee Terry McAulay joined the broadcast and explained Williams probably shouldn’t have been an eligible receiver on the play. Players can’t be lined up past the waist of the center (which he barely was), but that’s a difficult play to notice in real time.

Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was downright masterful on Sunday night. He threw a bevy of different looks at the Steelers defense, including this deceptive formation with Williams, heavy pre-snap motion from two tight end sets, Lamar Jackson niche plays, bootlegs, a nifty tunnel screen and one play where tackle Ronnie Stanley lined up in the slot. Not all were successful, but this level of ingenuity is a stark departure from his formerly stale scheme.

NFL Week 4 grades: The Ravens look like Super Bowl contenders - Steven Ruiz

RAVENS, GRADE: A

Are the Ravens the best team in the AFC? That’s a serious question. They sure looked like it in Pittsburgh. Joe Flacco is playing the best football of his career. The running game looks solid behind a good offensive line. The defense has lived up to its lofty expectations and just shut down what may be the league’s most talented offense on the road. Outside of the first half in Cincinnati on a Thursday night, Baltimore has been dominant.

After being considered a middling team at the start of the season, oddsmakers have made Baltimore the favorite to win the division and given them the fourth best odds to win the AFC.