Flacco is young, but he's one of the kings of the road


Ravens Beat

December 19, 2008|By JAMISON HENSLEY | JAMISON HENSLEY,jamison.hensley@baltsun.com

The Ravens will continue to stay on the road to the playoffs when they play at the Dallas Cowboys tomorrow night.

For Joe Flacco, the key word is road.

In just another way that Flacco goes against the stereotype of a rookie quarterback, he has played better on the road than at the friendly confines of home.

In seven games at M&T Bank Stadium, Flacco has thrown four touchdown passes and seven interceptions for a passer rating of 60.1. In seven road games, he has a rating of 91.1, throwing nine touchdown passes and five interceptions.

So, what's the reason for the great disparity?

"The beds are probably better on the road. ... It could be," wide receiver Derrick Mason said with a smile. "The bus ride might be a little better on the road than him driving his own car down to the stadium. I don't know what it is."

One reason might not involve Flacco at all. It could be the caliber of the opponent.

Not counting the three other AFC North teams (because he faces them on the road and home), all the pass defenses Flacco has gone against at M&T Bank Stadium rank in the top 10: the Tennessee Titans (fifth), Oakland Raiders (ninth), Philadelphia Eagles (fourth) and Washington Redskins (sixth).

It's been an easier path on the road, where he has played two pass defenses ranked in the top half of the NFL. Away from home, Flacco has faced the Indianapolis Colts (seventh), Miami Dolphins (20th), Houston Texans (18th) and New York Giants (10).

The Cowboys have the eighth-ranked pass defense.

Nevertheless, it's an impressive feat for a rookie quarterback to perform well on the road against any opponent.

Flacco has the NFL's fourth-best passer rating on the road (91.1), throwing a touchdown pass in five straight road games. His record is 4-3 away from home.

The Atlanta Falcons' Matt Ryan, the NFL's other starting rookie quarterback, has an 82.2 rating on the road. His record away from the Georgia Dome is 3-4.

Flacco's teammates aren't surprised at the 23-year-old's success in hostile environments.

"Joe is just cool, laid-back," Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis said. "So when we go on the road, no matter how loud people yell or what circumstances come up, he has great composure to keep the team together, keep the offense together.

"It's always exciting when you see someone that young do it, because you know the upside is so great. So, it's a great privilege to see Joe play football."


Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco (right) has the NFL's fourth-best passer rating on the road this season. A look at the top five: . Quarterback, team ............. Road rec. ........ Road rating

Chad Pennington, Miami ....... 4-2 ............. 92.1

Jay Cutler, Denver ................... 4-3 ............. 91.9

Kurt Warner, Arizona ............... 3-4 ................ 91.5

Joe Flacco, Ravens ................. 4-3 ............. 91.1

Jeff Garcia, Tampa Bay ........... 2-4 ................ 91.0

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