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Joe Flacco Drives Aggressive Offense To Explosive Day


Joe Flacco couldn't contain his grin.

Sunday's 38-6 beatdown of the Miami Dolphins at M&T Bank Stadium – in which the Ravens didn't stop chucking the ball until Flacco was on the bench – was exactly what he's been campaigning for.

The Ravens quarterback had an animated meeting with Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg Tuesday after the Ravens nearly let a win against the Cincinnati Bengals slip through their fingers because they were too "conservative" on offense.

Against the Dolphins, the Ravens took a quick seven-point lead on their first drive and never let up. They built a 28-point lead by halftime, then continued to pile on in the second half.

The Ravens' 303 offensive yards in the first half were the fifth-most in franchise history. Their 38 points were the most since Sept. 28, 2014.

"It's obviously a lot better to play in a game like this than to have to strip/sack the quarterback on the last drive," Flacco said, making reference to the Bengals game.

Much of the production came on Flacco's right arm. Flacco was 36-of-47 for 381 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. It's the most completions he's ever had in an NFL game, and the most in Ravens franchise history.

"He was lights out," wide receiver Steve Smith Sr. said. "We go as he goes."

Flacco has struggled at times this year. He entered the game with 11 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. His 80.4 quarterback rating was 29th out of 32 starting quarterbacks.

But every Raven knows that Flacco can get hot – real hot.

"Joe just came out and played awesome today," guard Marshal Yanda said. "He was firing on all cylinders. He was cutting them up. Joe had a great day today; that's what won us the game."

The Ravens offense has shown signs of life in recent weeks after a dreadful start, but it relented after getting off to quick starts. Flacco implored Mornhinweg to keep his foot on the gas, and the Ravens' offensive coordinator bristled at the mere use of his name and "conservative" in the same sentence.

The Ravens threw the ball 47 times compared to just 17 runs. It was imbalanced, but still very productive.

"We found out Joe is hot and Marty was going to ride him," Yanda said. "We could have run the ball more, but when Joe is playing like that …"

The Ravens entered Sunday's game ranked 24th in the NFL. They had one big game earlier this season when they scored 28 points against the Cleveland Browns in Week 10, but that was taken with a grain of salt because the Browns are winless and have the second-worst defense in the league.

Miami's defense is ranked in the middle of the pack, has a fearsome front seven and entered the game riding a six-game winning streak.

So how did the Ravens have so much success against the Dolphins?

They came out once again in their no-huddle offense, which forced Miami to show what it was going to do defensively. The Dolphins played a lot of zone coverage early on, and Flacco carved up the middle of the field, splitting the safeties for several long gains in the first half.

"Guys were running into big, pretty big open holes," Flacco said of his receivers. "It wasn't super hard for me to sit back there and find open guys today."

The offensive line continues to improve as rookie left tackle Ronnie Stanley gains experience, and with Pro Bowl guard Marshal Yanda back on the line at left guard. The unit kept Flacco clean, as he took no sacks and just two hits.

The biggest difference came in the red zone, where Flacco found running back Terrance West wide open for a 3-yard score on the first drive, then tight end Dennis Pitta twice for scores of 13 and 9 yards in the first half. Pitta, who used to be Flacco's right-hand man, hadn't scored a touchdown yet this season.

Pitta finished with nine catches for 90 yards and the two scores, but Flacco hit 10 different receivers over the course of the game.

"We have a lot of weapons offensively, and we always talked about the potential we have, but we weren't quite there," Pitta said. "Today, we recognized that potential and put it together."

But for many players, and Head Coach John Harbaugh, it came back to the aggressive mindset. The Ravens offense hasn't had many games like it did Sunday against Miami, and it gives the unit hope that it can get rolling in December as it chases a playoff spot.

Harbaugh said he didn't see the "little back-and-forth" between Flacco and Mornhinweg in Tuesday's quarterbacks meeting room, but he said "iron sharpens iron."

"We've been stuck at 10 [points in the first half] really, in probably four or five games," Harbaugh said. "To keep the pedal to the metal, as you say, to continue to make plays … I thought Joe just played phenomenally well."

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