It was Week 7 last year, on Monday Night Football, and Flacco could not will the Ravens offense into moving. Baltimore took a shocking 12-7 loss.
Look at Flacco now.
He was in control of a totally different Ravens offense in Thursday night’s preseason game, pulling all the right levers in a hurry-up, high-tempo offense that put up 20 points in nearly 2 ½ quarters of action.
Flacco and the Ravens have been practicing their new-look offense throughout training camp, and used it extensively in their first two preseason games.
But it never looked as good as it did Thursday night, creating visions of how good Baltimore’s offense can be this year.
“I think we are going to hit the ground running, and we are going to be real smooth at [it],” Flacco said of the no-huddle offense.
Flacco went 27-of-36 for 266 yards, two touchdowns and one interception – good enough for a 102.3 quarterback rating.
He threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to
Flacco threaded passes all over the field, and was nearly unstoppable when throwing to the sideline. Cornerbacks couldn’t get there in time, and wouldn’t have been able to reach the precisely-accurate ball even if they had.
“I’ve been here for four of his five years, and I can see how [Flacco’s] progressing,” Webb said. “It’s all due to Joe. He’s doing a great job, and he can handle that offense. So I’m waiting to see how much he grows within the season too.”
The Ravens threw the ball on 27 of their 37 first-half snaps. Flacco threw it on first down. He threw it in the red zone. He threw it deep, short and down the middle.
Flacco hit nine different receivers, not on purpose, he said, but just because it works out that way in a quick-tempo, confident offense that gets all pieces involved.
“He looked sharp,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “He did a great job. He was accurate with his throws, guys made catches for him, timing was good, real decisive. … We can run most every tempo that there is, we’d like to think, as we go forward here.”
Flacco is smitten with the up-tempo offense.
He said he can catch defenses by surprise, keep them on their heels and guessing. He likes how it neutralizes the pass rush, how it builds a rhythm and confidence within the offense.
“We wore the defense out,” Flacco said. “I don’t know if I campaigned [for it] too much, but I am cool with it. We’ve always had a pretty successful two-minute [offense]. If feel like we should do that all the time.”
The Ravens’ reaction to Flacco’s performance wasn’t over the top. It’s becoming more regular after seeing Flacco shine throughout training camp.
Harbaugh said a performance like that can never be taken for granted, but he’s not getting too ahead of himself.
“We have a long way to go,” he said. “It’s the third preseason game. None of them count yet.”