Skip to main content

Battered Joe Flacco Off The Mark

Joe Flacco scampered from pressure as he did often Sunday night in Cleveland.

He saw wide receiver Tandon Doss open deep and tried to contort his body and launch a throw. It landed well short.

Frustrated, Flacco showed rare emotion on the field. He crouched near the Browns sideline, grabbed his facemask and looked to let out a scream.

It was a rough first half for the Ravens quarterback. He rallied in the second half, but it wasn't enough to dig Baltimore out of another slow start.

He was sacked five times and hit eight. He was hit and off the mark so much that a reporter's first question to John Harbaugh was whether Flacco was injured. He wasn't.

"It's not easy on Sundays when you go out there and it's tough sledding and you're not getting the job done," Flacco said. "You've got to stare it right in the face."

Flacco finished with 24 completions on 41 attempts for 250 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. They're solid numbers, adding up to an 82.4 quarterback rating.

But Flacco has never been about numbers. He's been about wins. And those haven't been coming as often as usual. For the first time in his six-year career, Flacco is 3-5. It's also his first loss to Cleveland.

"It's obviously frustrating. We just haven't been good enough," Flacco said.

Flacco was off at the start. He missed wide receiver Jacoby Jones twice on the team's first drive, leading to a three-and-out and wasting excellent starting field position.

If he wasn't missing receivers, the pressure was getting to him. A sack on third-and-6 snuffed out the next drive, forcing the Ravens to settle for a 51-yard field goal when they were just outside the red zone.

Flacco was again sacked on third down on the Ravens' first drive of the second quarter – another three-and-out. He threw wide of Torrey Smith on the next drive, then had the incomplete pass to Doss on third-and-20.

He made his worst throw on the next drive. From the Ravens' 40-yard line, he tried to launch a pass deep down the field for Doss. The ball went high in the air and seemed to die, falling into triple coverage as an essential jump ball. It was tipped and intercepted by Browns cornerback Joe Haden.

At that point, Flacco was 5-for-15 for 51 yards and an interception. He had a 16.2 quarterback rating. He has nine interceptions on the year – all on the road.

Flacco thought he saw the safety following Smith, but that wasn't the case.

"It was a terrible ball," Flacco said. "It didn't come out of my hand right or something. It was a really bad ball. I threw it up in the air and it got caught up there and didn't do anything."

Flacco's game looked to turn around when he hit Torrey Smith for the first time on a 46-yard bomb down the middle. Smith was left wide open. A longer throw would have likely been a touchdown, but the Ravens still got in the end zone when Flacco found rookie Marlon Brown, who stretched for a 19-yard score.

Some of Flacco's best plays were with his legs, and he finished the game leading the team in rushing yards. He scrambled for 15 yards on third-and-12 in the third quarter and had the Ravens marching. But he was sacked on third down from Cleveland's 37, eliminating the chance for a field goal.

Working almost entirely out of the shotgun like he did in Pittsburgh, Flacco started to heat up. He kept going to Brown, and pulled the Ravens to within three points with a 7-yard strike and good throw on a two-point conversion.

But sacks ultimately did Flacco in. He had a chance for a game-tying or winning drive with about 11 minutes remaining, and drove the Ravens to Baltimore's 46-yard line. Facing a third-and-3, Flacco danced around the pocket and tried to spin out of pressure, but was brought down for a 1-yard loss.

The Ravens punted and Flacco didn't see the ball again until there was 14 seconds left.

Flacco didn't make the Browns pay when they blitzed. Asked if that emboldened Cleveland, Flacco said there's "no doubt about it."

"They've done some things to put pressure on some teams. It was definitely part of what we thought we were going to get," Flacco said.

"We're just making it tough on ourselves. We've got to run the ball better and get some completions, and we didn't do that."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content