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Through the first four games of 2011, the Ravens have a +62 point differential – tops in the NFL.
They don’t waste much time jumping in front either.
With Sunday night’s 17-7 first quarter against the Jets, the Ravens now hold a 52-7 advantage over their opponents in the opening frame.
From the opening game against Pittsburgh, the Ravens have struck early and often in all of their wins. In victories against the Steelers, Rams and Jets, Baltimore has scored its first touchdown with 13:28, 12:20 and 11:58 left on the first-quarter clock, respectively.
In addition, the Ravens’ defense has been stout during the game’s first 15 minutes, and the only points surrendered have come on special teams.
The New York Jets finally broke through against the Ravens with Joe McKnight’s 107-yard kickoff return on Sunday night serving as the only blemish for the Ravens on the score sheet.
Although the Ravens have only allowed seven first-quarter points – which came on special teams – that doesn’t mean John Harbaugh has to like it.
“We’re not happy about that,” the head coach said. “It should be 52-0, and we’ll probably look at the ones we didn’t score that we should have scored in the first quarter and just say, ‘It’s not enough.’ The point is, you’re always trying to get better.”
Last year, Baltimore struggled in the first quarter. Through the first four games of 2010, the Ravens were outscored by their opponents 13-7, en route to a season where the team scored only 61 first-quarter points, and their opponents tallied 51.
The squad has managed to find the end zone in a variety of ways early on in the campaign – rushing, passing and via the defense.
Joe Flacco has already thrown four touchdown passes in the opening frame, Ray Rice has added two touchdown rushes and Jameel McClain has returned a fumble for a score. Adding in a Billy Cundiff field goal, and the Ravens have 52 first-quarter points – just nine shy of last year’s season total.
The Ravens know that games are not won in the first quarter, but it does help the effort to get out to a fast start.
“The fact that we’ve started fast, and maybe more so than we have in other years, that’s a good sign,” Harbaugh said. “But it doesn’t guarantee anything. But the idea is to get the lead and keep the lead, so we’ll try to continue to do that.”