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Commentary: Strong first quarter for Ravens

That's the end of the first quarter.

The fastest first quarter in Baltimore Ravens history is over. The Ravens played four games in 17 days, and finished with three wins in four games.

That's about as good as can be expected. They've emerged from the first four games without a major injury, and the 3-1 record projects to a neat 12-4 mark, which would match last year's AFC North championship team.

A year ago, Baltimore won each of its eight regular season games home games and the only home playoff game. They were 4-4 on the road and lost the AFC championship game at New England.

The Ravens have lost their only road game, a one-point loss at Philadelphia.

"We're always going to be mad about the one that got away," coach John Harbaugh said.

"That's how we look at it. We won three games against very good competition in 17 days. That's an accomplishment. I'm proud of our guys for it. They'll get a well-deserved rest this weekend, then we'll be back at it again Monday."

The final three quarters of their schedule features seven road games and five at home.

Not only were there four games spaced quickly, but all three of the home games were at night. Counting the preseason, the Ravens have played seven night games and a lone day game.

"I thought our guys did a great job taking care of themselves," Harbaugh said.

The coach cited Ed Reed, who he said was particularly banged up.

The final 12 games have just one scheduled night game, on Nov. 18 at Pittsburgh.

"We're looking forward to a normal seven-day schedule. We've got some one o'clock games coming up," Harbaugh said.

Baltimore's 2-0 record in the division is an excellent start. With two games against the Steelers remaining, it will be difficult to match last season's spotless division record.

It will be hard to go undefeated at home, too. The Ravens still have home games with Dallas, Pittsburgh, Denver and the New York Giants as well as Oakland.

The Steelers, Broncos and Giants all visit over a four-game stretch in December that includes a road game in nearby Landover against the Washington Redskins.

Road games against Houston next month and with the Steelers and San Diego on consecutive weeks promise to be challenging.

The highlights of the first four weeks were the offensive show in the opener against Cincinnati and the thrilling, though replacement official-marred win over New England.

Joe Flacco has certainly been solid, leading the AFC in passing yards in the first three weeks, and throwing for more than 300 yards for the third time in four games on Thursday night.

Flacco did throw his first red-zone interception in nearly three years and was sacked four times. In the first four weeks, he's been sacked nine times.

The Browns, 12-point underdogs, put up a decent fight, trailing only 9-7 at halftime, and lost by only a touchdown.

Baltimore has a long weekend off, thanks to the Thursday night game, but after the three home games in 17 days, have just one in the next 45.

The Ravens host the Cowboys on Oct. 14 and then don't play at M&T Bank Stadium until Nov. 11.

Baltimore's defense wasn't as stout in the first quarter. Lots of changes, and the loss of Terrell Suggs. After being placed on the physically unable to perform list, Suggs, out with an Achilles Tendon tear, can be activated after the Dallas game, and must be removed from the list three weeks later.

The first four are over. So far, so good.

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