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Instant analysis of the Ravens' 34-27 win over the Saints

Baltimore Sun reporters, columnists and editors share their immediate reaction to the Ravens' game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Week 12.

Aaron Wilson, reporter: The Ravens manufactured an emotional 34-27 victory over the New Orleans Saints on Monday night that they absolutely had to have to keep pace in the ultra-competitive AFC North division. Behind a strong running game led by Justin Forsett's career-high 182 yards and two touchdowns, an accurate Joe Flacco who didn't throw an interception and was only sacked once and safety Will Hill provided a momentum-changing play with his interception return for a touchdown. The Ravens sacked Drew Brees four times, including a pair of sacks by outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil. They needed to muster every bit of pass rush to prevent Brees from breaking the game open. He still wound up completing 35 of 45 passes for 420 yards and three touchdowns. Another plus for the Ravens was wide receivers Steve Smith and Torrey Smith combining for nine receptions, 187 yards and one touchdown. As the Ravens were leaving the locker room, team officials were saying, 'We like this city,' after returning to the site of their Super Bowl XLVII win over the San Francisco 49ers.

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Mike Preston, columnist: The Ravens were impressive coming out of their bye week. The offensive line and running game came up big and so did outside linebackers Terrell Suggs and Elvis Dumervil.

Peter Schmuck, columnist: There was plenty of delicious irony in this victory. The turning point of the game was delivered by a member of the embattled secondary, and the Ravens and Saints have mirror image records that show the stark competitive difference between the AFC North and the NFC South. The Ravens are now 7-4 and tied for second place. The Saints are 4-7 and tied for first place. The Ravens desperately needed this win because it allows them to hold serve in a division with four seven-win teams, and they appear to have a scheduling advantage the rest of the way.

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Jon Meoli, reporter: The Ravens overcame some questionable officiating for both sides, plus a slew of early big plays to pull away from New Orleans. This is the same thing the Ravens have done to weak defenses all season -- pound the ball inside, let Justin Forsett find the holes, then hit big plays in the passing game. When the line plays like this, there always is one. Will Hill put in a Jimmy Smith-esque performance on tight end Jimmy Graham for the final three quarters of the game, and the front seven imposed its will on Drew Brees. Again, this is the Ravens beating a bad team badly. But it's another win as they try to keep pace in an AFC playoff race with nine of 16 teams at seven wins or more.

Childs Walker, reporter: The Ravens badly needed a win to keep pace with the mass of seven-win AFC contenders. They responded with a performance that highlighted all of this team's strengths. Justin Forsett continued his remarkable season with a career night. Joe Flacco played his most efficient game in weeks. The Ravens sacked Drew Brees four times. Will Hill redeemed a shaky effort by the secondary with an interception return for a go-ahead touchdown. Just a strong all-around effort on the road in a tough place to play.

Ron Fritz, sports editor: The Ravens had the game plan to beat the Saints, and they executed it to perfection. They gave up a ton of yards to Drew Brees, but also had a pick-six against him, and kept him off the field enough to stay in front. Total team effort.

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