Harbaugh defends offensive line

Coach says there's nothing to assess after play vs. Cardinals

October 31, 2011|By Edward Lee

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was sacked three times and hit three more times in Sunday’s 30-27 win against the Arizona Cardinals, raising questions about the play of the offensive line.

On Monday, coach John Harbaugh said he thought the unit played better as the game unfolded. Asked a few minutes later to assess the line’s play against the Cardinals, Harbaugh did not mince words.

“My assessment is that they’ll be ready to play against Pittsburgh [Sunday night], and we’ll be the best offensive line we can be, and they’re capable of playing football against Pittsburgh,” he said. “That’s the only thing you really need to assess as a coach. You look for ways to get better, anything specifically, and we try to work on all those things.”

The left side of the offensive line appeared to endure the most problems. Left tackle Bryant McKinnie and left guard Andre Gurode were at times overwhelmed in the first half.

“There were times when they brought the house, and there were too many people for us to pick up, so you were kind of left just trying to get who you could get,” McKinnie said. “… We just came in here and stuck with what was working for us, the stuff that we were successful at, and try to stick with that a little more.”

Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron alleviated some of the pressure off of the offensive line by having Flacco line up in the shotgun and run the no-huddle offense.

Gurode said the linemen took it upon themselves to protect Flacco.

“Honestly, just get off the ball and use good technique and just keep fighting,” Gurode said of the line’s mindset. “Do whatever you need to do to give Joe time, and Joe’s going to make those throws. And that’s what he did.”

The final numbers appear to support the offensive line. After completing just 12-of 23 passes for 98 yards, tossing an interception, and getting sacked twice in the first half, Flacco went 19-of-28 for 238 yards, avoided any more interceptions, and was sacked just once in the second half.

“I think they played better as the game went on, and we were getting the ball out faster as the game went on,” Harbaugh said. “I think the tempo helped us. Joe mentioned that, the fact that the no-huddle stuff kept them out of some of their pressures. They still pressured, but it’s hard to rush the passer when you start getting tired. So I think that helped us, too. The fact that we had stacked up some first downs, that really helped, too.”

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