Joe Flacco and Ravens Offense Find a Groove With Balanced Attack

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Joe Flacco joked after the season-opening win last week that it wasn't all that fun to play on offense that game.

But it was a different scene Sunday, as the Ravens quarterback had a big smile on his face to open his press conference after the 24-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns. The Ravens leaned more heavily on Flacco to get their second win of the season, and the offense seemed to find a groove behind a balanced attack.

"It was fun," Flacco said. "It was good to get going."

The Ravens had success on the ground and through the air, and ran the ball 32 times compared to 34 passing attempts for Flacco. He was efficient, completing 25-of-34 passes for 217 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. The Ravens had 136 yards on the ground.

Flacco spread the ball around to seven targets, and he found his sweet spot targeting the tight ends and running backs over the middle. The Ravens ran several creative plays designed to get the tight ends involved, and veteran Benjamin Watson led the way with eight catches for 91 yards. 

"Offensively, it was a pounding, grinding game, but you had balance," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "The passing game is what made the difference for us. We had conversions, chunk plays. Joe moved around, we had scramble plays, we had scheme plays. Those were what really helped our offense."

The story of last week's game was the way the running game dominated the game plan. The Ravens ran the ball 42 times to beat the Cincinnati Bengals, but they knew they would likely need to change that approach this week against the system employed by Cleveland Defensive Coordinator Greg Williams. The running game also suffered a significant blow when right guard Marshal Yanda went down with a season-ending ankle injury.

The Ravens put more on Flacco's plate this week, and he showed no ill effects from the back injury that sidelined him for five weeks during training camp and the preseason. He again bounced back from big hits* *and looked fluid moving around the pocket.

"I think I am progressing week to week and feeling a little bit better, but I didn't feel too much differently Sunday come game time than I did last week," Flacco said. "I don't think about it. I've said from the beginning that if all the sudden I get hit and I'm hurt, it just is what it is. It's the nature of this game. You can't* *come out here and think about things like that." Baltimore finished with 337 yards of total offense, and more importantly, the unit capitalized on opportunities created by the defense's five turnovers.

A particularly significant moment came right before halftime when the Ravens decided to go for a touchdown from the 2-yard line with five seconds left, rather than settling for the field goal. Flacco hit wide receiver Jeremy Maclin on a quick out route for the score to put Baltimore up 21-7 before the half.

"That was the plan and it's nice to know that they have confidence in us as an offense to do that," Flacco said.

Despite the victory, the theme of the post-game locker room was the Ravens lamenting blown assignments or missed opportunities on both sides of the ball, and Flacco was frustrated with some of his miscues.

He specifically pointed to the interception he threw on a deep ball intended for speedster Mike Wallace.

"I thought there were a couple of plays I was trying to do a little too much, hoping for too much, and I either missed something or threw a pick way down there," Flacco said. "Once I got past all that stuff and kind of being mad at myself, the fact that we were winning and having fun as a group, it was definitely fun."

The Ravens will now look to build off their first two wins as they head across the globe for their first game in London. Baltimore's defense has been as good as advertised to open the season, and the offense has done exactly what it's needed to do to win games.

The message from the veterans after Sunday's win was that they still have plenty of work ahead of them to become* *the type of team they want to be.

"We just have to keep it going," Flacco said.

Check out the best photos from M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens battle the Browns in week 2 of the 2017 NFL season!

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