Joe Flacco, Mike Wallace Ignite Ravens' Deep Passing Attack


After talking about it for a couple weeks, the Ravens didn't wait long to dial up their deep passing attack in Oakland.

It was the first play from scrimmage in Sunday's 30-17 win in Oakland that set the tone.

Flacco dropped back and bounced off his back foot. Protected well, he effortlessly floated a pass down the left sideline, hitting wide receiver Mike Wallace in stride for a 52-yard gain.

Wallace saw the play call Saturday night during meetings. On Sunday before the game, Offensive Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg confirmed he was going deep on the first snap.

"Last night when I saw the play call, I was like, 'If we get this play, it's going to be on me to start the game off and it's going to be a snowball effect,'" Wallace said.

"I was hype. You can't get a play call like that and not win; Marty might not call it again."

That was just the start of the Ravens' rejuvenated deep passing attack thanks to Flacco and Wallace.

Baltimore entered the game with a league-low six plays of 20 or more yards. They averaged a league-low 5 yards per passing attempt.

Flacco and Wallace connected for two plays over 50 yards in the first half of Sunday's game, then hit another clutch completion of 27 yards late in the third quarter.

Flacco said the best part of the opening deep ball was that the Ravens finished the drive with a touchdown. But after saying the Ravens needed to hit more chunk plays, Flacco was definitely happy to get the green light on more long balls.

"It definitely was good to let the ball go down the field and let Mike go get one," Flacco said. "You can see it on his face when he starts getting involved, how much he gets revved up and how much that helps our offense."

Wallace had a slow start to the season with three catches for 21 yards in the first three games. Though he joked that he wanted the ball more, he kept a confident and positive attitude.

Wallace showed some signs of a breakout last week when he caught six passes for 55 yards and a touchdown against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But he also dropped what would have been a long gain down the left sideline.

He made the plays when they came his way Sunday, finishing with three catches for 133 yards.

After the 52-yard catch at the start of the game, he added a 54-yard grab in the second quarter on another Flacco bomb. Wallace outraced two Raiders defenders down the middle of the field and slowed down a bit to make the tough basket catch.

Since he entered the league in 2009, Wallace owns the second-most catches of 50 yards or more. His two on Sunday gives him 25 for his career.

"We do it all the time in practice, so we know what we can do," Wallace said. "It's just a matter of it playing out the way we want it to – the right coverage, the right timing, everything. There's a lot going into catching long passes more than dropping back and throwing it."

The Ravens offense stumbled a bit early in the third quarter, but just when the Raiders cut Baltimore's lead to 7, Flacco and Wallace connected on another huge play.

Baltimore was facing a third-and-8 near midfield when the Raiders brought a blitz. Baltimore's offensive line picked it up well and Flacco bought some time in the pocket, then stepped into a 27-yard laser to Wallace. The Ravens added a 21-yard field goal that made a huge difference.

The Ravens offense held the team back in the past two losses, but it scored 23 points (Jimmy Smith returned a fumble for a 47-yard touchdown) Sunday in a tough environment.

The offensive line played a spectacular game, paving the way for 143 rushing yards and keeping Flacco upright. The Ravens knew they had a good ground game though. Now if they can continue hitting big plays on offense, it could be a dangerous unit.

"You get the mojo rolling," Wallace said. "We have a lot of good players on our team. It's just the rhythm. We get into a rhythm, we'll be hard to stop."

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