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Ravens pull away in second half to beat Titans

BALTIMORE -- Mired in a two-game losing streak and stuck in last place, the Baltimore Ravens broke out their old recipe for success to earn a much-needed victory.

The Ravens have long relied on a strong running game and a suffocating defense to win, and that was precisely the formula Baltimore used to beat the Tennessee Titans 21-7 Sunday.

Justin Forsett ran for 112 yards and two touchdowns to back a redemptive performance by the Baltimore defense that produced two turnovers, five sacks and plenty of helmet-ringing hits.

"The catalyst was really our defense, obviously," coach John Harbaugh said.

The Ravens (6-4) repeatedly harassed rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger, who went 16 for 27 for 179 yards and an interception in his first road start in the NFL. He rarely got the chance to comfortably plant both feet in the pocket and was unable to move the offense after the first quarter.

"They got a lot of dudes, they got a lot of studs in that front seven - and they know it," Mettenberger said. "Early in the first half we did a lot of good things to kind of counteract their guys. We just got to ... be able to play like that for 60 minutes."

Tennessee didn't get its initial first down of the second half until 4:37 was left in the game. Soon after that, newcomer Danny Gorrer intercepted a pass to clinch it for the Ravens.

"Going into the bye, you want to feel good about things and get back on track," tight end Owen Daniels said. "It was huge for us today."

It was a bounce-back performance by a defense that was embarrassed seven days earlier in a 43-23 loss to Pittsburgh. In that game, Ben Roethlisberger threw for 340 yards and six touchdowns.

In this one, the Ravens limited Tennessee to just 68 yards after the first quarter.

"Once we kind of got settled in and figured everything out, we did what we had to do," Baltimore defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said.

The Titans (2-7) have lost seven of eight. It was 7-all at halftime, but Tennessee had three three-and-outs in the third quarter while the Ravens took control.

Tennessee had seven possessions without a first down and finished with a meager 210 yards in offense.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt didn't blame it all on Mettenberger.

"He did some good things today, made some good throws," Whisenhunt said. "I think he did a nice job of operating today in this environment, which is not easy. But obviously, we have to be more productive."

The Titans lost tight end Delanie Walker in the second quarter with a concussion. Walker, who came in tied for the team lead with 35 catches, got his hands on a pass and was turning upfield when struck high and hard by Terrence Brooks.

The Ravens believe that hit made a lasting impression.

"I think the key play was when (Walker) was turned up," linebacker Elvis Dumervil said. "You don't want to hurt a guy, but it was an aggressive, clean hit. It really made guys kind of think about running back there."

Joe Flacco completed 16 of 27 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown for the Ravens, but the key was Forsett, who averaged 5.6 yards on his 20 carries.

Baltimore went ahead for the first time with 5:36 left in the third quarter when Forsett scored on an 11-yard run to make it 14-7. Flacco went 5 for 5 on the 11-play, 72-yard drive.

After the Titans failed to respond, Flacco hit Torrey Smith for a 32-yard touchdown with 13:09 left.

The Ravens made only five first downs and were held to 86 yards in the first half.

Tennessee took the opening kickoff and held the ball for more than eight minutes before Shonn Greene lost a fumble on third-and-goal at the Baltimore 1.

After the Ravens went three and out, Mettenberger capped a nine-play drive with a 3-yard pass to Leon Washington. It was only the second time this season the Titans scored a touchdown in the first quarter.

At that point, Tennessee had a 142-8 advantage in total yardage.

Baltimore pulled even with a touchdown on its third possession. On a fourth-and-1 from the Tennessee 9,. Forsett took a pitchout and sprinted around Kamerion Wimbley into the end zone.

Forsett earned the starting job after Ray Rice received an indefinite suspension from the NFL for domestic abuse. Now in his eighth season, Forsett has already reached career highs in yards (721), carries (133) and touchdowns (5).

"It's been a dream come true, just to get the opportunity to come out here and play and show what I can do," he said.

NOTES: Titans RB Dexter McCluster left in the first quarter with a knee injury. ... Baltimore's Terrell Suggs had 1 1/2 sacks and stands at 99 1/2 for his career.

Copyright 2014 by The Associated Press

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