By Mike Cranston, AP Sports Writer
CHARLOTTE, N.C.(AP) — In a surprisingly close game against a downtrodden team playing a journeyman quarterback, the Ravens waited until the end to display their trademark dominant defense.
It then took just two plays for Baltimore to end any hopes for a storybook day by little-known Brian St. Pierre.
Baltimore's defense returned consecutive interceptions of St. Pierre for touchdowns in the fourth quarter, Joe Flacco threw for 301 yards and a TD and the Ravens beat the Panthers 37-13 on Sunday.
The Ravens (7-3) recovered after a disheartening loss to Atlanta 10 days earlier by finally rattling Carolina's quarterback to break it open. With Baltimore leading 23-13, Ed Reed picked off St. Pierre, ran 19 yards, then pitched it to Dawan Landry, who went the remaining 23 yards for a touchdown.
On the next play, St. Pierre was intercepted by Ray Lewis, who rumbled 24 yards for a score.
It wiped out any chance of an improbable victory for St. Pierre, signed by Carolina (1-9) a little over a week ago. He threw an 88-yard TD pass to David Gettis early in the fourth quarter to get the Panthers within a touchdown.
Ray Rice rushed for 66 yards and a touchdown and Billy Cundiff kicked three field goals for the Ravens, including a 49-yarder with 5:55 left in a day of milestones for Baltimore.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh's 56-yard touchdown catch on the Ravens' second play from scrimmage was the 600th reception of his career. Derrick Mason became the 13th player in NFL history with 900 career catches in the third quarter. It was Reed's 50th career interception and the 30th for Lewis.
They needed it all to fend off the stubborn Panthers.
St. Pierre was 13 of 28 for 173 yards, but his two late interceptions sent Carolina to another loss. Mike Goodson rushed for 120 yards for the Panthers, his second straight 100-yard game after Carolina's top three running backs were sidelined with injuries.
St. Pierre, who just over a week ago was a stay-at-home dad, hadn't been in the NFL since the end of last season. He was given the starting job after Matt Moore (shoulder) and Jimmy Clausen (concussion) were sidelined in the past two weeks.
The 30-year-old St. Pierre, who played at Boston College and was a 2003 fifth-round pick by Pittsburgh, had thrown five passes in eight years as mostly a No. 3 QB with the Steelers, Ravens and Cardinals.
St. Pierre spent the first three quarters throwing only short swing passes and screens - even on third-and-long - and the Panthers had 39 yards passing entering the fourth quarter.
When he finally got a chance to air it out, it gave the Panthers brief hope.
St. Pierre 's long spiral down the left sideline was caught in stride by the rookie Gettis, who bolted 88 yards for a touchdown and the second-longest play in franchise history. It cut Baltimore's once 17-point lead to 20-13 with 14:44 left.
To put that into perspective, that one pass was more than seven times the yards passing St. Pierre had in his career (12 yards) coming into the game.
But Reed and Lewis soon ended Carolina's chances.
Flacco completed his first seven passes and 16 of 18 in the first half. But Baltimore kept wasting chances to put it away. Flacco botched a handoff to Rice on the Carolina 15 and Anquan Boldin also lost a first-half fumble at midfield.
The Panthers, who came in with the NFL's fifth-rated pass defense, gave up their first 300-yard passing game. Flacco was 24 of 33 with no interceptions.
After allowing only 39 yards rushing to Atlanta's Michael Turner in their last game, the Ravens gave up a 45-yard burst to Goodson that set up John Kasay's 45-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
The Panthers' other score, Kasay's 40-yarder, came after Captain Munnerlyn's 64-yard kickoff return in the third quarter.
The Ravens, one of the NFL's worst teams on kickoff returns, may have finally found their return man in rookie David Reed. He darted 84 yards to open the second half, leading to Cundiff's 33-yard field goal for a 20-3 lead.
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