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Joe Flacco: We Have To Convert On 4th Down

Posted Aug 25, 2014

The Ravens failed to convert twice on fourth down Saturday night against Washington.

The Ravens’ first-team offense finished on a high note Saturday night against Washington with quarterback Joe Flacco’s 24-yard touchdown strike to Steve Smith Sr.

But Flacco walked away thinking about what could have been.

His unit scored 10 points, but could have had more had it converted on its two fourth-down opportunities.

The Ravens are going to be aggressive on fourth down this year, just as they have been in previous seasons under Head Coach John Harbaugh, but they need to find success for the gamble to be worth it.

“When we have those opportunities, there’s no way we can get stopped, especially twice,” Flacco said. “We have to keep ourselves out there [and] we have to get points.”

Harbaugh decided to go for it three times Saturday night, once from his own 49-yard line on the Ravens’ opening drive, again from Washington’s 11-yard line on the final play of the first quarter, and then on the last drive of the game with Tyrod Taylor.

On the Ravens’ first opportunity, the blocking was pretty solid. There wasn’t any penetration, although fullback Kyle Juszczyk was hit hard and driven a bit into the backfield. That push back may have caused running back Bernard Pierce to bounce outside, where he couldn’t escape the one-on-one tackle made by Redskins linebacker Keenan Robinson.

Rookie bruising running back Lorenzo Taliaferro had the second crack on fourth down. The blocking was again good at the onset, but ultimately got some push back.

Left tackle Eugene Monroe cut one defensive lineman’s legs out. Tight end Dennis Pitta buried that man instead of picking up Perry Riley Jr. Left guard Kelechi Osemele originally drove defensive lineman Jarvis Jenkins back, but Jenkins fought back to the line of scrimmage to combine with Riley Jr. to make the stop for no gain.

The Ravens’ successful fourth-down conversion came as they tried to milk the clock at the end the game. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor snuck forward to move the chains.

So would Harbaugh have gone for it on fourth down the two earlier times had it been a regular-season game?

“It’s definitely an easier decision in preseason, without question,” Harbaugh said.

“But, the numbers and percentages, we look at all that stuff. It pretty much says, ‘Go for it.’ It’s pretty overwhelming a lot of times. As a coach, you’ve got to make a gut decision on how you feel about it. We’ve gone for it a lot over the years. I think if you look at the track record, we’re pretty aggressive on fourth down, so we like to do that and we like to have confidence in our guys being able to get there."

Flacco likes Harbaugh’s aggressive mentality. He just wants to see the players make it pay off.

“There’s no doubt about it,” he said. “When you’re an offensive guy, and you’re on the field, you want to stay out there. You want to score points for your team, and going for it on fourth down in those situations is giving you the opportunity to do that. That’s all you can ask for as a quarterback.”

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