With the game on the line, Flacco stumbles

December 08, 2009|By Mike Preston

reen Bay, Wis — G. - In his brief career in Baltimore, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco has played pretty well. But every now and then, he breaks down and shows that he is still only in his second year.

Flacco showed it Monday night. On a night when the rest of the offense was inept, at a time when the quarterback is supposed to carry his team, Flacco showed his inexperience in crunch time, throwing three interceptions and helping Green Bay pull out a victory that the Packers tried to give away.

Baltimore fans want so much to have a big-name quarterback like Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, and it's doubtful that Flacco will ever reach that level. Few quarterbacks do, but he can still become as good as a Philip Rivers or an Eli Manning. Yet, he still has some growing up to do.

On one series late in the fourth quarter, Flacco rolled to his right and tried to throw across his body to receiver Demetrius Williams, and the ball, which was underthrown, was picked off by cornerback Tramon Williams.

On the next series, Flacco tried to throw over the middle to tight end Todd Heap, and that pass was intercepted as well, ending any late comeback attempts.

Flacco should have known better. Few quarterbacks, even Brady or Manning, throw across their bodies across the field. The next interception was just Flacco trying to make a play.

The Ravens have been fortunate that Flacco has played so well in his first two years. He took the Ravens to the AFC championship game a year ago and still has the Ravens in contention for a postseason berth. But just as I warned the Ravens earlier this season when they had Flacco throwing the ball 40 times a game, he's still a young kid learning the game. Unfortunately, the game catches up with a lot of quarterbacks in their second year. Just ask Peyton Manning.

Jumbo advantage
When Green Bay running back Ryan Grant fumbled, and the Ravens recovered at the Packers 19 with 4:18 left in the first quarter, Green Bay officials got the instant replay on the JumboTron faster than any other team in the NFL.

Packers coach Mike McCarthy got three different looks before he even tossed the red flag, and the officials reversed the call. Now, that's home-field advantage.

Reed does what he wants
Safety Ed Reed missed Monday night's game with an ankle and hip injury. It wasn't a surprise. With Reed, you never know what to expect, or how much time he will miss.

That goes for practices as well as games. Reed does what he wants to do. He did come out for a warm-up Monday night before team trainers ruled him not ready to play.

Grubbs struggles
After watching the first two quarters of Monday night's game, I can say this was the worst half played in left guard Ben Grubbs' three-year pro career. He couldn't cut off penetration, and he was getting out-muscled. The worst part was that the Ravens didn't have a player on their bench that was as good as Grubbs.

Rascally Rodgers
Aaron Rodgers is one of the more elusive quarterbacks in the NFL, but the Ravens left the middle of the field open for him to scramble numerous times Monday night. Rodgers didn't take the open turf in the first quarter, but he did in the second for a 23-yard run, which helped set up Green Bay's second touchdown.

Hanging on
The Ravens got hit with some bogus pass-interference calls, but they aren't going to get any breaks. They have been hanging all over receivers most of the year, and there have been many times when they held on to avoid giving up long passes.

With that attitude and style, the Ravens aren't going to get any breaks.

Running game grounded
Three-headed monster?

The Ravens never got a chance to use running backs Ray Rice, Le'Ron McClain and Willis McGahee. The Ravens got behind early, and their offensive line couldn't block Green Bay's.

Too much to say
The Ravens need to put a muzzle on receiver Derrick Mason. He's a good player and plays extremely hard, but the mouth and the temper have put the Ravens in some serious holes this season.

It's time to censor him.

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