Flacco, Rice Shoulder Blame for Offensive Woes


Following a season-worst offensive performance in a 27-14 loss to the Green Bay Packers, two of the Ravens' most-important offensive pieces owned up to key turnovers that proved to be a swing point of the game.

Running back Ray Rice started the bleeding, ending a promising drive that got down to Green Bay's 17-yard line before Rice fumbled away the football.

Quarterback Joe Flacco opened the wound even more with three interceptions, the most he's thrown in a single game his entire career.

"It's something that we just can't have," said head coach John Harbaugh on his weekly radio show on WBAL 1090 AM. "There is a process. We don't want to excuse anything, and he would be the first one to not make an excuse for any mistake he makes. Turnovers were the bottom line of the game. That team thrives on turnovers. They were plus-17 going into the game, and we were able to get three, but we weren't planning on giving them four."

The Ravens' initial drive saw them march to the 17. But Rice, who does not have a history of fumbling, coughed up the football to kill one red zone appearance.

"It's my fault," Rice said. "I'm not known as a fumbler. I protect the football. It's something I'll get corrected."

It was also an ominous portent for the rest of the game and a less-than-stellar performance from Flacco.

The second-year signal-caller threw the first of his interceptions to safety Nick Collins on a misplaced deep ball to Derrick Mason.

His last pick came with just under seven minutes left in the game when Flacco, who completed 15 of 36 passes for 137 yards and a passer rating of 27.2 (all season lows), connected with Packers linebacker A.J. Hawk to erase a last-gasp effort.

But the killer was Flacco's second interception.

Sitting on Green Bay's 1-yard line in the fourth quarter, running back Willis McGahee lost 2 yards on first down. On second down, Flacco scrambled to the right to elude pressure and underthrew a pass across his body to the end zone that was easily picked off by cornerback Tramon Williams.

"I think those were throws he shouldn't have thrown," Harbaugh said. "The one in the red zone is obvious. You've got a guy trying hard to win a game. The thing about Joe is that he fights."

Flacco was his worst critic.

"I think it was a stupid decision and a worse throw," he stated. "It was second down, so you don't really need to make a play there. You can give yourself another shot on third down and still kick a field goal. I didn't set my feet, I didn't get enough on the ball, and I under-threw it to him."

At this point, Flacco must fight out of somewhat of a slump. Through his first seven games of the season, Flacco threw 12 touchdowns and only five interceptions.

Over the last six contests, he owns two touchdown passes and six picks.

"They didn't do anything different," Flacco said of the Packers' game plan. "They are a good defense. They have good guys on the outside and they were able to get a little bit of pressure. Anytime you play like that, it's going to be a little tough to operate in there."

On Monday night, he did not get much help from the rushing attack, either. The Ravens amassed only 66 total yards on the ground, with Rice leading the way with 14 carries for 54 yards.

It was the fifth time in the last eight contests where Baltimore fell below the century mark in team rushing.

Rice, the Ravens' leading rusher with 181 attempts for 875 yards and six scores on the year, said that a constant deficit partly dulled the ground game.

Baltimore fell behind 17-0, and then pulled to within three points when the two fourth-quarter turnovers put things out of reach.

"There were a lot of running lanes, and we could have run the ball a lot against them," said Rice, whose 17-yard tackle-breaking run helped continued a drive that culminated in a 12-yard touchdown pass to Kelley Washington. "But it's hard to run the ball when you're playing from behind. I broke one in the second half. There were running lanes, but when you're playing from behind, it's easy to just sit back and cover."

Moving forward, both Flacco and Rice will be critical for the Ravens to maintain their playoff aspirations.

Flacco isn't getting discouraged, despite the meager offensive output.

"I thought we did a good job and stood tough," Flacco said. "We gave ourselves a chance to win the game. I just made a mistake you can't make."

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