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Boldin is golden in Baltimore debut

For the first time all afternoon, Anquan Boldin was surrounded.

The Ravens' new wide receiver, acquired in March for a measly pair of mid-round draft picks, strolled out of M&T Bank Stadium after his home debut and was engulfed by a purple-clad swarm of well-wishers and autograph-seekers.

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Boldin, who had just hauled in three touchdown passes in Sunday's 24-17 win over the Browns, was once again the man of the moment.

Eric Wright was nowhere to be found, of course.

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That was the case whenever the Ravens called Boldin's number — something that happened early and often — and the Browns cornerback was left to chase after him in vain. Boldin finished with eight catches for 142 yards as the Browns secondary finished with zero solutions to the matchup problems the dynamic wideout created.

"We tried multiple things," humbled Cleveland coach Eric Mangini said. "We tried man. We tried zone. We tried doubling. None really worked that well."

The guy they call "Mangenius" sure got that one right.

No matter which coverage the Browns dialed up, Boldin  was able to shake free of the secondary. But he did most of his damage when left alone on an island with Wright.

Boldin made Wright look so lost that the disoriented defensive back's face was probably already printed on Cleveland-area milk cartons by the time the Browns' plane touched down Sunday night.

"I was told to come here and be myself, and whatever that entails — going out and making plays whenever they need it," the former Cardinals wide receiver said.

Faced with an unlikely challenge from their rebuilding AFC North rivals, the Ravens needed all the plays their new No. 1 receiver had, and they got them.

With the Ravens trailing, 3-0, in the first quarter, Boldin victimized Wright for the first time, easily cruising past the flat-footed cornerback and leaping to haul in a little lob from quarterback Joe Flacco. The eight-yard touchdown was the 600th catch of Boldin's career, making him the fastest player in NFL history to reach the milestone.

(Yeah, I was a little surprised by that sneaky stat, too.)

On the Ravens' next drive, Flacco connected with Boldin for six points again. With a nasty outside-inside move that even noted route-running tactician Derrick Mason probably thought was a little too malicious, Boldin spun Wright around and right out of the play.

"That's one of the matchups that we felt we could take advantage of," said Boldin, an eight-year veteran.

He couldn't have thought it would be this easy, though.

The Browns never learned from the coverage lapses, and moments after taking a 17-14 lead early in the fourth quarter, the Browns sent an all-out blitz on third down and again left Wright to fend for himself.

Boldin feasted on the single coverage, cruising past Wright and under a high-arching rainbow from Flacco in the back of the end zone for what ended up being the game-winning touchdown.

"Anquan Boldin showed today why we wanted him to be a Raven," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.

Boldin basked in his brilliant Baltimore debut after the game, raving about the fans' reception to his receptions.

"The crowd was unbelievable," Boldin said. "To go out and have a performance like that, it feels good."The feeling was mutual for the fans waiting outside the stadium —one of the few times Boldin was touched all day.

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