Flacco and the offense worked this summer on running plays without a huddle, and when it came time to put the new scheme into action, the results were almost flawless. The Ravens amassed 430 yards, didn't commit a turnover and punted only twice.
"That tempo really helped us out because those guys can really get to the passer and really create a lot of pressure," Flacco said. "I think the fact that we were able to go up-tempo and kind of keep those guys on the field took its toll on them."
"Obviously, everything went pretty well for us tonight," Flacco said.
Not so for the Bengals, who made the playoffs last year without beating a team that qualified for postseason play. In this one, Cincinnati once again came up short against a high-caliber opponent.
"That certainly wasn't what we expected to have out there today," coach Marvin Lewis said. "We got outplayed and we got outcoached."
Although the 44 points were only 11 fewer than the Ravens mustered in two games against Cincinnati last year, Lewis insisted Baltimore's no-huddle attack wasn't the difference.
"I wish I could say it was the no-huddle," he said. "I think it's an effective thing for them, and it's something they'll continue to do, but I don't think it really bothered us."
The loss sure did.
"They just outplayed us," defensive tackle Domata Peko said. "They just beat us today, and we've got to get better."
Flacco watched the final eight minutes of the blowout on the sideline after going 21 for 29 in Baltimore's ninth consecutive victory in the AFC North. The Ravens were the only team in the division to win an opener.
Not only that, but Baltimore turned two turnovers into touchdowns over a two-minute span. After Reed's touchdown return, 37-year-old linebacker Ray Lewis forced a fumble that was recovered by Lardarius Webb, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Rice to make it 41-13 with 13:41 remaining.
Lewis and the Baltimore defense are used to carrying this team, but now the offense seems ready to do its part.
"Joe kind of got us into a rhythm and always kept their defense off balance," Lewis said. "We've practiced against this offense all offseason, so to see it now, when everything's real, I think you have to take your hats off to how hard we worked as a team."
Reed's jaunt with a pass tipped by Cincinnati receiver Brandon Tate put the safety in the NFL record book. Reed has 1,497 yards in interception returns, eclipsing the previous record of 1,483 yards by Rod Woodson. It was Reed's seventh career score on a pickoff return.
Dalton went 22 for 37 for 221 yards, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for 91 yards and a score in his Cincinnati debut.
Flacco went 12 for 15 for 183 yards in the first half to stake Baltimore to a 17-10 lead.
Flacco set the tone for the shootout on the game's first offensive play, throwing deep to Torrey Smith for a 52-yard gain. That set up a 46-yard field goal by Tucker, who won the job in training camp from Billy Cundiff.
Baltimore quickly forced a punt, and Flacco went back to work. He completed a 16-yarder to Jacoby Jones on a third-and-15, tossed a 1-yard pass to Rice on a fourth-and-1 and watched from the backfield as Rice completed the 12-play, 63-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run behind a fine block by fullback Vonta Leach.
"It was really fun for me. I barely got hit tonight," Rice said.
After Dalton got Cincinnati to 10-3 with a 76-yard march that ended with a field goal, Flacco capped an 82-yard drive by splitting two defenders with a 34-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press