Strong debut from Ravens’ new wide receiver trio encouraging for Joe Flacco, offense

The Ravens unveiled their new-look offense Sunday, and their new toys at wide receiver made hearty contributions.

Willie Snead IV, John Brown and Michael Crabtree each caught a touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Flacco and ranked first, second and fourth, respectively, in receiving yards in Sunday’s 47-3 pasting of the Buffalo Bills in the regular-season opener for both teams at M&T Bank Stadium.

That production is exactly what the organization had hoped for when it had signed all three players in the offseason.

“It was encouraging,” coach John Harbaugh said. “To see [quarterback] Joe [Flacco] spread the ball around like that and to see all of the guys step up and make plays when they have the opportunity to do, it was the thing I’m probably most excited about.”

Snead caught a 13-yard scoring strike from Flacco on the offense’s opening series of the third quarter to extend the Ravens’ advantage to 33-0 with 12:28 remaining. Snead, who led the unit in receiving yards with 49 on four receptions, was flagged for pass interference on the play before his touchdown when he ran into free safety Jordan Poyer, freeing up tight end Nick Boyle for a 3-yard waltz into the end zone.

“Joe wasn’t making me feel too good about that one,” Snead said. “I was just trying to do my job, and it was kind of a ticky-tack call, but the next play … I will take advantage of that every time.”

Brown, who finished with three catches for 44 yards, made the offense’s biggest play of the game with a 29-yard catch on the opening drive of the first quarter. Two possessions later, he caught a 7-yard pass in the back of the end zone for a 14-0 lead with 1:32 left in the quarter.

“It just feels great to be able to make those plays, especially in the rain,” he said. “And to see Joe Flacco throw the ball like that and the offensive linemen do what they had to do, it amazed me a lot. Just the three receivers, we just had a point to prove, but it doesn’t stop right here.”

Crabtree, whose 25 touchdown receptions in the past three seasons ranked fifth most in the NFL, added his first score as a Raven when he pulled in a 12-yard lob in the back-left corner of the end zone to give the team a 26-0 advantage with 13 seconds left before halftime.

“As a receiver, all three receivers getting touches, all three receivers getting touchdowns, that’s something that we strive for, that’s something that we’ve been showing in practice every day,” Crabtree said. “So that’s really just us showing the world.”

The presence of all three wide receivers was a comfortable sight for Flacco, who completed 25 of 34 passes for 236 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 121.7 passer rating.

“I feel really good,” said Flacco, who entered Sunday 5-1 in season openers at home with 10 touchdown passes against two interceptions for a 92.5 rating and an average of 260.3 passing yards. “John is a different type of player just with his speed and what he does to defenders and the relationship he gets with those guys. Crabtree has a special way of running routes and getting in position and making big catches. Willie is an easy guy to get on the same page with from an early point just because he does everything so much the right way. He’s been in a good passing offense, and he just knows where to be. You have to give a lot of credit to those guys.”

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