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Joe Flacco Stands Tall Despite Crushing Hits

Posted Oct 6, 2013

Joe Flacco shook off a pick-six and big hits to calmly lead the Ravens to a win.

A week after throwing five interceptions, Joe Flacco was turnover free.

That was until Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan hit his arm, causing a fluttered pass that was easily intercepted and returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game.

The Ravens were leading by 10 in the second half. Suddenly, they were all tied up.

And Flacco’s protection, which had broken down around him all game, was to blame. Left tackle Bryant McKinnie, likely playing in his last game as the Ravens’ starting left tackle this season barring injury, was beaten badly by Jordan.

So what was Flacco’s reaction?

“Stuff happens, man,” he said. “You come off the sidelines, you get pissed for a couple of seconds, and then you regroup because you’re getting the ball right back.”

Flacco showed the resilience and cool head amidst intense pressure that has become his calling card. In a game in which the Ravens had to overcome much adversity, Flacco’s poise and grit largely led the Ravens to a 26-23 victory over the Dolphins in 90-degree Sun Life Stadium.

“Joe doesn’t ever get fazed,” Head Coach John Harbaugh said. “Joe is not the kind of guy that’s going to get rattled. That’s just who he is. That’s part of his greatness.”

Like he does so often, Flacco didn’t finish with eye-popping numbers. He completed 19 of 32 passes for 269 yards, a quarterback rating of 73.6. But he did it with limited weapons.

Flacco has been operating with new faces throughout the season. The trade of Anquan Boldin and hip injury to Dennis Pitta were just the start. On Sunday, he had just three healthy wide receivers to whom to throw the ball – Torrey Smith, Deonte Thompson and Tandon Doss. Jacoby Jones (knee) and Marlon Brown (thigh) weren’t activated and Brandon Stokley was cut Saturday.

Now, the newest problem is pass protection. The box score shows that Flacco was sacked just twice and hit six times. But he had pressure constantly in his face and none of those hits were taps. He was getting hammered.

But Flacco stood up in the face of pressure, especially in the second half.

On the Ravens’ first touchdown drive, coming in the third quarter, Flacco scrambled for 14 yards on third-and-5. On the next drive, Flacco hung in against pressure to deliver a 40-yard pass to Doss. Flacco was hit hard in the gut as he released the bomb.

The pressure finally got to him in the fourth quarter when Jordan hit Flacco's arm, causing the interception.

“We know we have to work on some things protection wise,” Harbaugh said. “And we’ll continue to do that. We’re going to be a good pass protection team. I guarantee you that. And Joe understands that. And that’s just the way he plays.”

After the pick, Flacco hit Smith for a gain of 16 yards on his next pass. The Ravens punted on that drive, then got the ball back in a tie game with four minutes, seven seconds remaining.

They ran twice, then Flacco executed a great play-action fake and rolled to his right. Running from pressure, he lofted a pass to Smith for an essential 14-yard gain to put the Ravens in field-goal range for Justin Tucker's game-winning 44-yard kick.

Flacco hung in long enough to pull out a win. Afterwards, he was asked whether he can remember ever being hit more than he was in Miami.

“I don’t know, I’ll have to go back and look and see how many times I was hit,” he said. “When you’re out in the middle of the game you don’t really pay attention to that stuff. You kind of just get up, you throw the next pass and you move on.”

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