Joe Flacco: Ravens Need to Let Loose on Offense to Reach the Super Bowl


The Ravens didn't earn many style points for their 23-16 win over the visiting Houston Texans on Monday Night Football, which put them back on the inside track to the playoffs.

Don't look inside the team's locker room for apologies, however. The Ravens will take wins, no matter how they come.

With that said, quarterback Joe Flacco also looked forward a bit after Monday night's win, and he thinks the Ravens need to upshift on offense if they're going to keep replicating that winning feeling.

Baltimore's offense posted 294 total yards against the Texans and went 3-for-14 on third down. Its two touchdowns both came after fourth-down gadget plays (a fake punt and misdirection toss).

After Flacco went 20-of-32 for 141 yards and zero touchdowns and interceptions, the Ravens still rank at the bottom of the league in passing with 164 yards per game and are second-to-last in total offense.

At 6-5, the Ravens are playing "winning football," as Head Coach John Harbaugh has stated many times, and have put themselves in good position by leaning on their turnover-feasting defense and ace special teams.

But can the Ravens keep it up without a passing attack?

"In order for us to take the next step for real, we're going to have to let it loose a little bit and see where it takes us," Flacco said Monday night. "We want [to win] the Super Bowl."

The Ravens are looking for a way into the playoffs after being on the outside looking in for three of the past four years since winning Super Bowl XLVII. The first step is to get an invitation to the dance. But Flacco has bigger goals in mind.

"If we believe we can win the Super Bowl with how we're playing right now, I'm all for it. I really am," Flacco said. "We can all take a look at that and say it's probably not super realistic. We need to go out there, and we need to go get it, and we need to be better on our side of the ball."

Flacco made it clear that he isn't surprised that the Ravens are in the playoff hunt with the way they're playing on offense. He said that if one goes back and breaks down each game individually, it's what the situation dictated to come away with wins.

"When you get a lot of turnovers, you usually end up playing offense a little bit more conservative just because you don't have to do anything else, and that's the way our games have been," Flacco said. "You just know by the end of the season you're going to be in games … you don't want to have to just turn it on when you have to; you want to be doing it all the time."

What Flacco's alluding to is that when the playoffs arrive, the level of difficulty will rise.

The New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, for example, have two of the league's best offenses. If the Ravens are going to keep up, they may need more offensive production. And if Baltimore isn't clicking by the time those games come, it could be hard to flip the switch.

"There's a couple of shots for us to have out there and maybe make the game [go] our way," Flacco said. "If you give yourself two shots, and you rely on hitting only those two, there's going to be games when you don't hit them. So, I think it's kind of our game plan; we're winning games like it."

Flacco realistically realizes that in order to play "offensive football," as he puts it, the Ravens are going to put themselves in position to make mistakes and "do things that are bad."

To this point, Baltimore has had a lot of success when it simply hasn't turned the ball over, given that its defense is getting so many from its opponents.

"We do what we have to do to win football games a lot of times around here. That's why we win games," Flacco said.

"Like I said, it just goes back to when we talk about wanting to win the Super Bowl. We're not just trying to get in the playoffs. We want to get to the big game. You want to have all cylinders clicking – special teams, offense and defense. You don't want to just go in with one or two of them. You want to have all of them, and you usually need all of them."

For as good as the Ravens' Super Bowl-winning defense was in 2000, the offense ranked 16th in the league in yards per game behind a strong rushing attack led by Jamal Lewis. The Ravens went five games without a touchdown, but averaged 28 points over their final seven-game winning streak to close out the regular season.

When the Ravens won their second Super Bowl in 2012, the Ravens made a late-season offensive coordinator switch, then had a momentum-building offensive game in a 33-14 home win over the defending champion New York Giants, which helped catapult them into their playoff run. The offense also ranked in the middle of the pack (16th overall) in yards per game.

If this year's offense can improve to even middle-of-the-pack standards, it could be a dangerous combination with the way the defense and special teams units are playing.

But first of all, the Ravens need to get into the playoffs, which is certainly not guaranteed amidst a crowded AFC playoff chase with five weeks remaining.

"Joe was exactly spot on. We're just like everyone else in this league, we're trying to win the whole thing," Head Coach John Harbaugh said. "But they don't play that game yet. So, the first step is the next step, and the next step is our next game. We have to be good enough to figure out how to win the next game and keep building off of that."

Check out the best photos from M&T Bank Stadium as the Ravens host the Texans on Monday Night Football.

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