Like a few other quarterbacks before him, Joe Flacco enjoyed a career day against the Chicago Bears.
The Ravens quarterback tossed a career-high four touchdowns and set a career high with a passer rating of 135.6 in Sunday's 31-7 rout of the Bears, who have made a habit of surrendering either a boatload of touchdowns (five each to the Cincinnati Bengals' Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals' Kurt Warner) or an alarming number of yards (392 to the Minnesota Vikings' Brett Favre).
Flacco's rating was the second highest in franchise history. Paired with his rating of 120.8 in the 48-3 thrashing of the Detroit Lions on Dec. 13, Sunday's performance marked the first time he had posted ratings of at least 120.0 in consecutive contests. (It's the third time in his two-year career that he has recorded back-to-back ratings of at least 100.0.)
Flacco shared the credit with his teammates.
"We've got guys that can fill in all positions and do a great job," he said. "I think you saw today our guys were just making plays all over the place. And it doesn't matter who's out there. We are going to have trust in who's lining up there and running the routes."
In his past two games, Flacco has thrown for five touchdowns without an interception. On Sunday, Flacco and the rest of the offense took advantage of Chicago's decision to play man-to-man coverage.
"They were singling out our men on the outside, so we took advantage of what they were doing in the secondary," said wide receiver Derrick Mason, who caught one of Flacco's four scoring passes. "We had some single coverage, and Joe did a phenomenal job of putting the ball where he was supposed to put it."
Flacco began the season on a torrid streak, throwing for 12 touchdowns against just five interceptions in his first seven games. But his production dipped over the next five contests as he posted two touchdown passes against six interceptions.
Coach John Harbaugh, who fielded questions about Flacco's midseason struggles after the 27-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago, pointed out that the offense, defense and special teams have worked in conjunction to assist Flacco.
"But then again, he's probably played better the last two weeks," Harbaugh said. "He's made good decisions as far as protecting the football. He's especially done that in the red zone, which is most important. I think we've got to keep playing well around him and coaching well around him, and he'll keep, hopefully, getting better throughout the course of the next few weeks."
Paschal thrown right in
With a depleted secondary playing without free safety Ed Reed
and cornerback Fabian Washington,
then having cornerback Lardarius Webb
go down in the third quarter, Marcus Paschal
found himself playing safety in the fourth quarter Sunday.
The defensive back, who was signed to the practice squad Nov. 18 and replaced defensive tackle Brandon McKinney (back) on the active roster Saturday, did not record a tackle but enjoyed his experience nonetheless.
"I was ready when they gave me the OK that they were going to bump me up" Saturday, Paschal said. "I had a real good feeling that at any given time, I could get thrown out there today. So I prepared myself, and I was ready when that chance came."
The Ravens brought back the "Suggs Package" in the second quarter with Flacco and Troy Smith
taking the field at one time.
On both of those plays, Flacco lined up as a wide receiver and Smith lined up in a shotgun formation behind center Matt Birk. Smith opted to keep the ball, rushing for a total of 9 yards.
Between the two plays, Chicago called a timeout to adjust to the wrinkle.
"Obviously, with them burning the timeout there, they showed the respect that they had for everybody that was out on the field," said Smith, who also lateraled to Flacco but threw a long pass over tight end Todd Heap in the end zone in the third quarter. "That obviously meant something to them."
Suggs said he tried to fix his helmet by taking it off after Haloti Ngata
's recovered fumble, which earned him an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty. "Then I tried to get it back on real quick, but then he got me," Suggs said. "That could've been big. I'm glad it happened in a game where it didn't hurt us that much because - who knows - maybe in a playoff, that may kill us." ... Cary Williams
made a contribution by stripping the Bears' Rashied Davis
of the ball on a kick return, which the offense converted into a touchdown in the third quarter. "Once he had it in his hand, I noticed that when he was going to accelerate, it was kind of out," said Williams, who was signed by the team Nov. 24. "He didn't really have it secured. So what I wanted to do was try to shoot my head across and see if I could get my helmet on the ball, and it popped out."