BALTIMORE (AP) The Baltimore Ravens headed into their bye with a victory to savor.
The Tennessee Titans emerged from their time off with a frustrating loss.
Justin Forsett ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns to back a strong performance by the Ravens’ defense, and Baltimore snapped a two-game skid by beating the Titans 21-7 Sunday.
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The Ravens (6-4) couldn’t imagine a better way to head into a lengthy break. Although they’re still tied for last in the AFC North, a half-game separates the top spot from the cellar.
”It’s a tight division race and coming off a loss, you always want to rebound,” tight end Owen Daniels said. ”Going into the bye, you want to feel good about things and get back on track. (The win) was huge for us.”
Baltimore hopes the victory can serve as a springboard for the rest of the season. After losing to Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, the Ravens shut down Tennessee and rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger in the second half.
”It feels good to get a win before the bye,” said wide receiver Torrey Smith, who scored the clinching touchdown in the fourth quarter. ”We can get away from football for a little bit and get our bodies back. We’re going to come back ready to go for a tough stretch.”
Tennessee (2-7) emerged from its bye with a flourish, grabbing a 7-0 lead on its second series on a touchdown pass by Mettenberger.
Things pretty much went sour after that, however, and the Titans absorbed their sixth loss in seven games.
”The preparation and the work paid off in the first half,” coach Ken Whisenhunt said. ”We just have to find a way to get those things in the second half addressed.”
Some things we learned about the Titans and Ravens:
GROWING PAINS: It’s not unusual for a rookie quarterback to struggle, and Mettenberger certainly did in his second career start – the first on the road.
He was sacked five times, sometimes as a result of standing in the pocket too long and sometimes because his offensive line crumbled under the rush of Baltimore’s front seven. It was tough for Mettenberger to direct traffic or wait for separation to develop because of how little time he had to set himself.
”Really, we have to look at it to be certain and see if it was really him holding the ball too long or if it was protection,” Whisenhunt said. ”I think he did a nice job in operating in this environment, which is not easy. But obviously, we have to be more productive.”
SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITY: Forsett has flourished as the Ravens’ starting running back following the indefinite suspension of Ray Rice for domestic violence.
In just 10 games, Forsett has already set career highs in yards (721), carries (133) and touchdowns (5).
”When you watch him on tape, he has always been a playmaker, and now he’s getting an opportunity to prove that,” coach John Harbaugh said.
THEIR OWN WORST ENEMIES: In the final three quarters, the Titans’ best field position to start a drive was at their own 28-yard line. They started at or inside their own 16 five times, including drives that began at the 7, 9 and 1.
On three occasions, special teams penalties backed them up at the beginning of offensive series. Overall, Tennessee was flagged nine times for 67 yards.
Whisenhunt has been preaching the need for mistake-free football, but not everyone seems to be listening.
”I didn’t think we had too many (penalties) on offense today,” Mettenberger said. ”The special teams penalties hurt our field position, and I’m sure that will be addressed.”
HOME AGAIN: Right tackle Michael Oher played his first game in Baltimore since signing with Tennessee as an unrestricted free agent in March.
Oher, Baltimore’s first round selection in 2009, made 80 regular season starts for the Ravens, including the 2012 Super Bowl victory. Still, he was unsure what kind of reception he would receive on his first trip back.
”I had fun seeing the guys I used to play with. I didn’t get any trash talking or anything like that,” Oher said. ”I guess they appreciated what I did when I was here.”
DAMAGING INJURIES: The Titans lost tight end Delanie Walker in the second quarter when he received a concussion on a vicious hit by safety Terrence Brooks. Earlier, Tennessee running back Dexter McCluster left with a knee injury.
That certainly didn’t help the Titans’ bid to generate some offense against a very strong and determined Baltimore defense.
”It hurt us,” Whisenhunt said. ”They were both in our package, and we felt like we had some plays for them. But we have to be able to survive that.”
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