Moments after the Ravens' 34-3 dismantling of the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, running back Willis McGahee walked past Domonique Foxworth and playfully jabbed the cornerback for not returning his interception for a touchdown.
In the past, that would be no laughing matter. This year, it's a family affair.
With the defense picking the ball off and the offense punching it into the end zone, the Ravens converted 21 points off turnovers in matching their largest margin of victory in the 19-game John Harbaugh era.
"It feels like a marriage now," linebacker-defensive end Terrell Suggs said. "Everybody is doing their part."
Before an energized announced crowd of 70,950 at M&T Bank Stadium, the Ravens improved to 3-0 for the second time in team history (2006 was the other) and remained atop the AFC North, keeping a one-game lead on the Cincinnati Bengals and extending their advantage to two games over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The other team in the division, the winless Browns (0-3), couldn't match the Ravens' intensity on either side of the ball.
A week after being criticized for allowing too many big plays, the defense rebounded with four interceptions (Foxworth, Brendon Ayanbadejo, Dawan Landry and Ed Reed). Only once has the team forced more picks.
Behind Joe Flacco's career-best 342 passing yards, the Ravens' offense continued its torrid pace with 479 total yards. Only once have the Ravens produced more yards.
"I thought it was a complete victory, a team victory," Harbaugh said. "I think our team took care of business in a way that they had to in this particular game."
A 13 1/2 point favorite, the Ravens didn't overlook the Browns because Harbaugh wouldn't let them. On Wednesday, the Ravens held "one of the hardest practices since training camp," Foxworth said, "and it showed up on Sunday."
It showed up immediately Sunday. On the opening series, Foxworth jumped in front of wide receiver Braylon Edwards to intercept quarterback Brady Quinn.
Six plays later, McGahee scored the first of his two touchdowns, running 7 yards untouched into the end zone.
"That right there shows you what the line is doing up front," said McGahee, who has scored six touchdowns this season on 39 touches. "I said to myself, 'I've got to score on this one because nobody's touching me.' "
After a couple of field goals by Steve Hauschka (from 36 yards and 33 yards), the Ravens extended their lead to 20-0 by using the hurry-up, no-huddle offense to march 80 yards in the final minutes of the first half. McGahee capped the drive with a 15-yard touchdown, another score where no defender laid a finger on him.
The effectiveness of the play went beyond the Ravens' blocking this time. It started with Flacco, who called an audible to McGahee's run to the left side.
"That's just a great job of recognizing the blitz, understanding what this team likes to do in that situation and getting us in the perfect play," Harbaugh said. "And that's why a guy runs around there untouched."
The Browns' first series in the second half mimicked the first half, with the Ravens turning an interception into a touchdown. Ayanbadejo's interception of Browns backup quarterback Derek Anderson led to Ray Rice's 9-yard score, the first touchdown of the young running back's career.
In the fourth quarter, Landry recorded the Ravens' third interception of the game. Leading 27-3 with 8:18 to play, the Ravens would typically start running out the clock.
But these aren't your traditional Ravens. One play after the turnover, Flacco connected with wide receiver Derrick Mason for a 72-yard touchdown.
"Our mind-set is to go down and put points on the board," said Flacco, who was taken out after that touchdown to finish 25-for-35 passing with a 111.8 quarterback rating. "We were going to do whatever we had to do to do that."
The Browns, who have scored one offensive touchdown in their past nine games, couldn't keep pace. Cleveland finished with 186 yards and 11 first downs. The Browns went from Quinn to Anderson after halftime. They probably would have tried Bernie Kosar if they could.
The only disappointment for the Ravens came at the start of the fourth quarter. After a 25-yard pass-interference penalty on safety Reed - the biggest offensive gain for the Browns all game - Cleveland reached the red zone for the first time.
Trailing 27-0 with 15 minutes to go, the Browns decided to kick a field goal instead of going for a touchdown on fourth-and-goal from the Ravens' 12-yard line. Billy Cundiff's 29-yarder ended what could have been the Ravens' first shutout in three years.
"There was quite a bit of time left at that point," Cleveland coach Eric Mangini said. "We were really looking at trying to get it to a three-score game."
The Ravens are one of seven undefeated teams left in the NFL (the New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, New York Giants, New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings are the others). Even though the Ravens are pleased with their start, Mason echoed many teammates who didn't want to compare this team just yet to other successful ones they've been apart of.
Said Mason: "I think the one thing that they all have in common is the attitude that they go about playing the game with an aggressiveness and the mentality of 'We're going to beat you up for 60 minutes.' "
By the numbers 4Interceptions by the Ravens' defense, which ties the second most in team history. The Ravens had five interceptions in 2007 against the St. Louis Rams.
6Touchdowns this season by running back Willis McGahee, who scored on runs of 7 and 15 yards against the Browns.
15Minutes left in the game until the Ravens' shutout bid ended on a 29-yard field goal by the Browns' Billy Cundiff.
34.4Quarterback rating of Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson, who split the game for the Browns.
342Career-best passing yards by quarterback Joe Flacco, who had his first 300-yard game earlier this month.
- Jamison HensleyCopyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times