Ravens QB Joe Flacco's pretty good, and that's good enough

After beating Steelers, Ravens coach John Harbaugh gushes with enthusiasm

November 07, 2011|Mike Preston

One week Joe Flacco is an elite quarterback, and the next week he is a bum.

On Monday, Flacco was right there with Tom Brady and Peyton Manning because he led the Ravens on a 92-yard scoring drive in the last two minutes as the Ravens upset the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night, 23-20.

And if he plays poorly against Seattle, he'll be a bum again.

Fans either hate or love Flacco in this town, and that makes no sense because he really isn't elite or a bum, just a pretty good quarterback. He is going to have good days and bad days, but barring a major injury, he should have a pretty good record when he is finished playing.

Flacco now seems comfortable in the Ravens short passing game, an area head coach John Harbaugh had hoped to build on last week. The Ravens also kept Pittsburgh guessing by taking a couple of shots with long passes down the field.

Flacco completed 28 of 47 passes for 300 yards against Pittsburgh. Around town Monday, his fans said Flacco had "arrived" as if he ever left, or declared he had "turned the corner," which might have put him around York Road and Greenmount Avenue.

The opinion here hasn't changed, and probably won't. You don't get too high or too low with Flacco. He isn't "elite" enough to carry or build the offense around, but still good enough to win a Super Bowl.

He's in the same situation with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Earlier in the year, he was a bum but yesterday he became part of the elite group when he beat Brady and the New England Patriots.

Angry mobs could be waiting for both next week. It's not fair, but that's the life of an NFL quarterback.

Hysterical Harbaugh

Harbaugh was so giddy about the win, he started quoting Theodore Roosevelt, scripture and even saluted the Ravens fans who had watched the game on the sofa.

He gets a little corny at times.

"Congratulations to everybody back in Baltimore that watched this game on TV tonight that jumped off their couch when Joe Flacco threw that pass, and we won that game. Congratulations to you all. It's as much for you as it is for us. It's us together. We're the Ravens Nation," said Harbaugh.

Now, that's original stuff.

Here's more Harbaugh, on Flacco's critics: "I know people do see it. So I'm not going to go there. If people want to write about it and want to be the naysayers, it's not the critic who counts. It's the man who's in the arena whose face is covered with blood, sweat and dust. He will never be with those poor and timid souls that know neither victory nor defeat. So that's what I say to all those people. They don't count."

Here's one more nugget about receiver Torrey Smith, who dropped four but caught five.

"That's what football is all about," he said. "That's what being refined in the fire is all about. You walk through the fire, and you come out untouched. You get refined by it, you get purified by it, and that's what he does."

Harbaugh can't help himself. He gets carried away with the coach speak.

Right adjustments

The coaching staff did a good job in preparing the Ravens, and made major improvements in clock management. They finished both halves with drives at the end and scored off a field goal and touchdown.

They might want to consider the no-huddle more often. Pittsburgh dominated the Ravens in the third quarter, but once the Ravens went to no-huddle on the last drive, the Steelers' pass rush couldn't keep pace, and that was the equalizer for the Ravens' suspect offensive line.

Beating the press

It was interesting that the Steelers kept pressing up on the Ravens receivers late in the game even though they had beaten them badly several times during the game.

The best way to beat Flacco is to drop six or seven guys into coverage and make him read and go through his progressions. But by pressing on the ball, Flacco was able to make quick decisions and go to his primary targets which he did on the final touchdown pass to Smith.

Coming home?

With the Steelers victory, the Ravens have put themselves in position to secure a bye or at least host a playoff game if they take care of business.

"If you think about it, this is the only team in the world that's capable to play like we play and can match us blow for blow, just like they did tonight," said Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs. "So, it's huge. We swept them, but don't be fooled. We're going to have to see this team in January. We just positioned ourselves for them to have to come to M&T so we can do it."

Mutual respect

The Ravens always try to downplay the situation, but it is in the back of every players' mind when one side of the ball has to carry the other side.

The Ravens defense has carried the offense for most of the season, especially in the past two games.

"We fought to the last minute," said Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta. "It just came down to pure heart and desire. I think we'll get the respect from our defense now. They've been carrying us. It builds camaraderie."

Fine for Lewis?

I wonder if the NFL will fine Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis for hitting Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward in the second quarter and putting him into the twilight zone for the rest of the game.

It wasn't a memorable hit as far as ferocious contact, but it was jarring enough to rattle Ward. As soft as the NFL has become, Lewis could get a fine.

mike.preston@baltsun.com

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