Rice does it all for Ravens

Posted Dec. 19, 2010 @ 5:10 p.m.
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By David Ginsburg, AP Sports Writer

BALTIMORE (AP) — By breaking two alarming trends, the Baltimore Ravens snapped the six-game winning streak of the defending Super Bowl champions.

Ray Rice ran for 153 yards, caught five passes for 80 yards and scored two touchdowns to carry the Ravens over the New Orleans Saints 30-24 on Sunday.

With Rice leading the way, Baltimore (10-4) revived its lagging running game with a 208-yard performance. Coming in, Rice did not have a run of more than 30 yards and reached the 100-yard mark only once. Against the Saints, he peeled off a 50-yard run in the fourth quarter and finished with his most yards rushing since a 154-yard effort on Nov. 2, 2009, at Cleveland.

Baltimore also managed to come up strong at the end, a weakness for much of the year. The Ravens have blown eight fourth-quarter leads, but in this one scored the game's final six points after New Orleans had rallied from an early 14-point deficit.

With the score 27-24 and the Saints facing a fourth-and-8 on their own 17, Cory Redding intercepted Drew Brees to clinch the victory. A field goal by Billy Cundiff created the final cushion.

Brees went 29 for 46 for 267 yards for the Saints (10-4). He threw two touchdown passes to tight end Jimmy Graham and another to wide receiver Lance Moore.

But it wasn't enough to prevent the Saints from losing for the first time since Oct. 24. It was the first time in six games that New Orleans failed to score at least 30 points.

Brees went over 4,000 yards passing for the fifth consecutive season, a feat performed previously by only Peyton Manning.

The reigning Super Bowl MVP was good, but also lucky. Brees fumbled twice during a third-quarter drive of 20 yards, but the Saints recovered the loose ball on each occasion before Garrett Hartley kicked a 47-yard field goal to cut Baltimore's lead to 21-17.

The Ravens then got a first-and-goal at the New Orleans 5 before Le'Ron McClain dropped a potential touchdown pass and Joe Flacco was sacked. So Cundiff kicked a field goal to restore the seven-point cushion.

New Orleans pulled even at 24 with 11:34 left when Moore made a sensational catch of a deflected pass in the back left corner of the end zone. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh challenged the call to no avail.

The back-and-forth duel continued when Rice ripped off a 50-yard run to set up a 32-yard field goal that made it 27-24 with 10:03 to go.

This time, the Ravens made the advantage stand.

Baltimore limited New Orleans to 19 yards rushing and used two scores by Rice to take a 21-14 halftime lead.

The first two touchdowns were scored by rookie tight ends. After Graham made an outstanding one-handed catch near the right sideline and tumbled into the end zone for an 18-yard score, Baltimore's Ed Dickson caught a short pass over the middle on a third-and-10 from the New Orleans 34 and got his first NFL touchdown.

Following a punt by the Saints, Rice took a pitchout 20 yards on a fourth-and-1 from the New Orleans 49, then ran for a 10-yard touchdown for a 14-7 lead.

A 26-yard punt return by Baltimore's Lardarius Webb preceded a 17-yard touchdown pass from Flacco to Rice.

Just before halftime, Brees engineered a 92-yard drive that included a 27-yard pass to Marques Colston, a 20-yarder to Reggie Bush and a 1-yard TD to Graham.

Game stats

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