Boldin, Flacco carry Ravens over Browns 24-17

The Baltimore Ravens pursued Anquan Boldin during the offseason

because they figured he would improve the passing game, provide

leadership and help the team win.

The talented wide receiver did just that in his home debut

Sunday.

Boldin caught eight passes for 142 yards and three touchdowns,

and the Ravens survived an uncharacteristic performance from their

defense in a 24-17 victory over the Cleveland Browns.

Obtained from the Arizona Cardinals in a trade in March, Boldin

is the featured player in an improved receiving corps that includes

T.J. Houshmandzadeh and (injured) Donte’ Stallworth.

”I was told to come here and be myself, going out and making

plays whenever they needed it,” Boldin said.

Down 17-14 in the fourth quarter, the Ravens really needed

Boldin to make a play. He ran under a rainbow pass from Joe Flacco

in the end zone, a 27-yard score that put Baltimore (2-1) ahead for

good.

Boldin repeatedly victimized Cleveland cornerback Eric Wright,

who probably wishes the Cardinals had tried harder to hold onto the

three-time Pro Bowl wideout.

”He’s obviously a good player, but I didn’t play up to my

ability, anywhere close,” Wright said. ”It’s unfortunate because

you have 10 other guys on the field that are doing their job and

really depending on me to be a certain type of player. I wasn’t

that player by a long shot.”

Flacco completed 22 of 31 passes for 262 yards and three

touchdowns. He did not throw an interception after committing six

turnovers in his first two games.

”He’s the kind of guy you want playing quarterback for you,”

Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. ”I don’t think there’s a guy in

the building that doubted that for one second.”

Baltimore won despite failing to force a turnover and permitting

Peyton Hillis to run for a career-high 144 yards. Playing a second

straight week for injured starter Jake Delhomme, Seneca Wallace

went 18 for 24 for 141 yards and a score.

The Browns trailed 14-10 in the third quarter when Hillis burst

through the left side on a 48-yard run. He was overtaken by Tom

Zbikowski, who threw Hillis down while both were out of bounds for

a 15-yard penalty.

Josh Cribbs followed with a 19-yard run out of the wildcat

formation. Then, on the initial play of the fourth quarter, the

Browns got their first second-half points this season: a 1-yard

touchdown pass from Wallace to tight end Benjamin Watson.

The Browns (0-3) couldn’t hold on, but after losing 34-3 and

16-0 to the Ravens last year, they could take some consolation in

staying in it to the end.

”We’re getting closer all the time,” Wallace said. ”Remember,

we’ve got a lot of new faces on this team, and we’re working hard

to get better. We will work our way out of this and get a win

soon.”

If Hillis keeps running like that, it will happen sooner than

later.

”I think we showed today that we can run the ball against one

of the best defenses in the league,” he said. ”We played together

today.”

The Ravens came into the game without having allowed a touchdown

in two games. The Browns, however, made the unit look mortal.

”It was pretty streaky and it was pretty disappointing to allow

a team to come out and pound the ball like that,” Baltimore

linebacker Jarret Johnson said.