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Ravens dominant in 'TNF' victory over rival Steelers

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The AFC North looked like the toughest division to figure out heading into this season. The Baltimore Ravens made sure that remained true on Thursday night with a convincing win over their biggest rivals.

The Ravens avoided an 0-2 home start in the division with a 26-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. After an embarrassing week in the headlines following Ray Rice's release and indefinite suspension, this game almost felt like an afterthought to everyone but those on the field. 

It was a game the Ravens needed to win to avoid digging a huge hole in the standings, and they played with urgency all night. The Steelers played like a lot of road teams play on a short week, running out of gas in the second half.

Baltimore's defense set the tone early by flying around, tackling well and forcing a fumble on Pittsburgh's first drive. Elvis Dumervil's first step was lightning fast all night, and the Ravens prevented big plays for all four quarters. This is not a flashy Ravens defense, but it's a lot faster with rookie linebacker C.J. Mosley and safety Matt Elam making big plays.

New offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak's offense looked more coherent on its first drive Thursday than it did throughout the entire opening week loss to Cincinnati. Joe Flacco was calm and accurate, moving the chains with short passes inside the numbers. Steve Smith Sr. looks far younger than his 35 years, showing burst and tackle-breaking ability as the Ravens' primary receiver. He's been their top wideout. The running game looks ordinary, but the Ravens stayed patient with it to the tune of 157 yards.

The Steelers have to be concerned. Their defensive line has been pushed around two straight weeks. Both sides of the ball had a number of unforced errors, penalties, and the offense has three turnovers. Ben Roethlisberger ended at least three drives with errant throws. Pittsburgh has been outscored 50-9 in their last six quarters, and should be thankful to be 1-1 after two weeks.

This is normally one of the best rivalries in football, with close games decided in the final moments. The Steelers weren't up to the challenge Thursday. The Ravens badly needed a win, and they played like it.

The latest "Around The NFL Podcast" recaps the Steelers-Ravens game and previews the other 15 games in Week 2.

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