Flacco Looks To Expose Lions

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The first time quarterback Joe Flacco threw three interceptions in the regular season, the Ravens went on to rip off a four-game winning streak.

This year, the Ravens are hoping for a similar turnaround.

Flacco is coming off one of the worst performances of his young career, completing only 15 of 36 passes for 137 yards and three interceptions in a 27-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Monday night.

As Flacco battles through a rough stretch, there is no one answer to his recent troubles.

"I think there are a lot of explanations," said head coach John Harbaugh. "There are a lot of little things that go play by play. The bottom line is Joe can play better; we can play better around Joe in the passing game."

The second-year signal-caller knows he needs to play better to keep the Ravens' playoff hopes alive with four weeks left and a crowded field vying for a wild card spot.

He helped the Ravens put themselves in the postseason conversation by completing 66 percent of his passes while throwing 12 touchdowns and only five interceptions over the first seven contests. The Ravens found themselves on the bubble partly because Flacco's completion percentage dropped to 58.9 percent and he logged only two scores to his six picks in the last five weeks.

"If you look at some of these games, and we would've come out on the better side and won, then nobody would be saying any of this stuff," Flacco said. "But the bottom line is we haven't. We haven't done a good enough job, and that's what we'll have to live with.

"We've got to make sure the next four games, this game most importantly, we got out there, take care of business and win the football game. As long as we do that, everything else should take care of itself."

The Detroit Lions could be just the team to help Flacco get back on track.

Featuring the NFL's worst passing defense, the Lions surrender 274.8 yards through the air per game. Detroit has allowed 27 completions of 25 or more yards and only generated 21 sacks on the season.

Both of those factors add up to a vulnerable unit.

"It's really a matter of style," explained Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. "They're an eight and nine man front, which is going to single up either both corners or one of the two safeties. And people have hit some big plays on them, but I think it's been hit or miss a little bit lately.

"We're still going to have to execute. We've got to pass protect, and it'll be interesting to see."

Flacco has played some tough competition recently. The Packers were the league's top-rated defense, as were the Pittsburgh Steelers when they came to Baltimore Nov. 29.

The Ravens are familiar with Detroit head coach Jim Schwartz's defensive scheme, as they faced it twice last year when Schwartz was a coordinator with the Tennessee Titans.

"They're somewhat familiar with us," Cameron continued. "[I'm] looking forward to seeing what adjustments they've made."

Teams have become more familiar with Flacco, too, which could contribute to his woes. With 31 games under his belt, Flacco has more film for the opposition to study.

"To some extent, they're trying to disguise a little bit of what they're trying to do in the secondary," Flacco noted. "But they're playing their defenses, and we've played some good teams. They've done a good job. We've done a good job."

Some have questioned whether Flacco is healthy. He has battled various injuries this year. Flacco had his foot stepped on and rolled his ankle against the Minnesota.

Vikings in Week 6, and then re-injured it six weeks later in the Steelers game.

Flacco is listed on the current injury report with hip and knee injuries.

"I'm as close to 100 percent as I can be," Flacco stated. "I've got bruises and stuff like that, but it's not affecting me out on the field."

Quarterbacks coach Hue Jackson doesn't think Flacco's mechanics have suffered due to injury.

"Any quarterback at this time of year is sore and beat up," Jackson said. "But, the good ones rise above that and play at a high level week in and week out. That's just part of the deal about being a quarterback in this league."

The Ravens are confident that Flacco can rebound. While they want him to change some of his decisions, Flacco must also stay true to the playmaker he has been in the past.

"It's not about doing things differently in preparation," said Jackson. "It's about not making those same mistakes when it's game time. Sometimes, your best friend is throwing the ball out of bounds. Sometimes, your best friend is taking a sack. I think he understands that.

"It was very uncharacteristic, in my opinion, of him to do what he did in that situation. I know it's happened some times this year. I'm not going to tell you it's growing pains or anything like that. He has to perform better, and he will."

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