Joe Flacco And Offense To Face NFL's Top Pass Defense


Joe Flacco has been stellar in the Ravens' three home games this season.

He's completed 67 percent of his passing, averaged 345 passing yards, thrown six touchdowns and has a quarterback rating of 106.5. The Ravens have averaged 36.3 points per game at home this season and are riding a 13-game winning streak at M&T Bank Stadium.

But on Sunday Flacco has to go up against a Dallas Cowboys team that is ranked as the NFL's top pass defense, giving up an average of just 169.5 yards per game.

"These guys are good," Flacco said.

The key to the Cowboys' success at stopping the pass is that they have one of the best pass rushes in the NFL. With DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer on the edges, the Cowboys can pressure quarterbacks into making rushed throws, which makes life easier on their secondary.

"Part of what makes them a good pass defense team is they have a good pass rush and can disrupt the pocket a little bit here and there," Flacco said. "We have to make sure we handle all of those things, and if we do that, we should be able to go in there and feel confident about what we are doing."

Stopping Ware and Spencer will primarily fall on tackles Michael Oher and Kelechi Osemele, but the other piece of the equation is that the wide receivers have to get open quickly against a quality secondary to counteract the pass rush.

"They're talented guys," receiver Anquan Boldin said. "They definitely get after the quarterback up front, which helps the secondary out at lot. It's a race between us and the defenders."

The Cowboys starting cornerbacks are $50 million free-agent acquisition Brandon Carr and first-round draft pick Morris Claiborne. Those offseason investments have paid off, as both Carr and Claiborne are playing at a high level. 

"We just felt like it was important for us to allocate some resources to get those guys," Cowboys Head Coach Jason Garrett said. "They allow us to do some things on defense this year that we want to do."

Both Carr and Claiborne are able to play press coverage, which has given the Ravens trouble at times this year. Baltimore had just 164 passing yards against the press on Sunday versus the Chiefs, and 214 yards against the same coverage against the Eagles in Week 2.

If the Cowboys play press coverage against the Ravens, then that will make the short routes a critical component of Sunday's game, especially with such a talented pass rush coming after Flacco.

"We're going to have to be on our game underneath in order to get the job done and play well," Flacco said. "It's just a matter of playing sound football and being patient and not trying to do too much and all those kinds of things."

For a preview of the Cowboys vs. Ravens matchup, check out the Week 6 Gameday page.

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