Flacco Celebrates Best Game Of Season
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and this one is no exception.
Despite running out of healthy receivers, quarterback Joe Flacco put the offense on his back and helped carry the team to a 29-26 victory over the San Diego Chargers. He fought and scraped for every yard, and was found celebrating his fourth-quarter, 1-yard touchdown plunge while lying on his back with his legs still stuck under a pile of 300-pound bodies.
You can see Flacco raise his arms from the pile of football wreckage, signaling and celebrating the score, just like he raised the offense to victory.
"Joe Flacco played probably his best game of the season as he brought it home without his top receiver, Steve Smith Sr., and with his back-up center, John Urschel, snapping him lollipops in the shotgun," wrote The Baltimore Sun's Childs Walker.
And it wasn't just that Flacco was without Smith – which is a huge deal in and of itself – but The Sun's Jeff Zrebiec pointed out much more was working against the franchise quarterback. Of the six wide receivers the Ravens kept on season-opening roster, three (Smith, Darren Waller and Michael Campanaro) are done for the year and a fourth (first-round pick Breshad Perriman) hasn't played a down.
"You think [Flacco] had to introduce himself to the other receivers after Smith got hurt? 'Hi, I'm Joe. I throw the ball around here,'" radio host Glenn Clark joked on Twitter.
Despite it all, Flacco threw for more than 300 yards and accounted for two touchdowns (one passing and one rushing). He scored the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, and when the Chargers tied the game back up with a field goal, it was Flacco who jumpstarted the winning drive.
He hit completions of 18 and 13 yards, which were augmented by an 11-yard Justin Forsett run and a pass interference call on third down. The drive set up the game-winning field goal by kicker Justin Tucker.
"Joe Flacco has taken a lot of grief for his performance late in games," wrote Zrebiec. "[He] was near flawless in [the] 4th quarter without several of top weapons."
Sunday was the opposite of what happened in every single one of the Ravens' six losses. Flacco had possession with three minutes left to go with a chance to win or tie, but came up short. This time, he got the job done with scoring drives on the offense's final two possessions.
"Flacco seized the moment and flipped the script in a season defined by close losses," wrote Zrebiec.
In true Flacco fashion, the Ravens quarterback was hesitant in the CBS video below to celebrate this beyond what it is – one win. He knows that his team still has a steep uphill climb to turn its season around, and he knows he has to do it without his favorite target.
It will take eight more flawless games from Flacco if it's going to happen.
"Now more than ever, the pressure will be on Joe Flacco's shoulders," wrote Zrebiec.
Five Ramifications Of Smith's Injury
The word "cruel" was used to describe the Ravens' win.
It was the Ravens' 100th victory at M&T Bank Stadium since the venue opened in 1998, and Smith moved into the top 10 off all-time receiving yards.
The team was jumping for joy, only to go to the locker room and get the depressing news that Smith is done of the season with an Achilles rupture.
CSNMidAtlantic.com's Clifton Brown outlines five ramifications of Smith's injury that will ripple throughout the roster and organization:
1. Tuesday's trade deadline could become more significant for the Ravens.The deadline is less than 48 hours away, and the script has reversed on what the Ravens could do. Before, there was chatter about trading away Smith to stockpile draft picks to rebuild next year. Now, the talk is the Ravens will need help at receiver and may make another trade to augment the unit.
"While it's hard to gauge the effectiveness of making a trade before Tuesday's deadline (face it, acquiring Calvin Johnson probably wouldn't get them to the playoffs), they're going to have to add someone, simply because they're running out of bodies," wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Darin Gantt.
2. The bye week will be spent making major offensive adjustments.Many of the offensive passing plays had Smith as the No. 1 read, and without him in the lineup, Brown says Offensive Coordinator Marc Trestman will have to be creative in finding plays that will work for other targets.
3. The Ravens will find out more about their other receivers.
Prior to Smith going down, receiver Kamar Aiken only had one catch for 3 yards. After Smith's injury, Aiken played the No. 1 role for 17 game minutes* *and finished with a team-high six catches for 62 yards and drew the pass inference call on the final drive to keep the game alive. Chris Givens and Jeremy Ross combined for six more catches for 78 yards. Going forward, "who will respond, and who will fade?" asked Brown.
"[Givens] deserves more playing time with the big plays he's producing and he could receive it with the season-ending injury to Steve Smith," wrote EPSN's Jamison Hensley. "Givens averaged 19 yards on three catches, including a 39-yarder on a third-and-1."
4. Flacco has even less margin for error.
We covered this one above. Flacco is going to have to repeat Sunday's performance to keep the offense afloat.
5. The second half of the season becomes more daunting for the Ravens offense."Think about it," wrote Brown. "When training camp began, the Ravens expected their top two receivers to be Smith and first-round pick Breshad Perriman. Smith won't play another snap. Perriman (knee injury) has yet to play a snap. Not what the Ravens had in mind."
Zuttah To Get More Tests, But May Miss Time
Flacco didn't hide the fact in the post-game press conference that the off-target and wobbly shotgun snaps coming from backup center John Urschel made him nervous.
Judging from reports on Zuttah's injury, Flacco and Urschel are going to want to get some practice time in together on those snaps.
"Per source, Ravens center Jeremy Zuttah has shoulder strain. More tests tomorrow to determine severity," tweeted Zrebiec. "Zuttah could miss some action, although bye week next week buys him some time as well."
Urschel hasn't had significant time playing center during his NFL or college career. He played guard at Penn State, and snapped the ball for one short series last season, per The Sun's Jon Meoli.
"[W]hy on Earth did the Ravens keep running plays out of the shotgun?" asked The Sun's Alexander Pyles.
"Several shotgun snaps floated to Flacco, including a couple that Flacco mishandled, and the team eventually had to move under center to end the game," wrote Meoli. "The win allowed Urschel and Flacco to laugh about it, but Urschel acknowledged it's something that needs work."
Fake Tweet Fools CBS Broadcast
If you ask me, people have too much time on their hands.
Whoever created a fake NFL Media Ian Rapoport account sure faked out the CBS broadcast crew yesterday. With just more than four minutes remaining in the game, sideline reporter Jamie Erdahl went on air to say, "Ian Rapoport, for NFL.com, is reporting that [Steve Smith Sr.] has a torn Achilles in that foot."
This was long before the injury news was confirmed. I quickly went to Rapoport's Twitter account and saw no such tweet. That's because Erdahl was quoting a fake account.
So, she jumped back on the air to report the mistake, and admitted the broadcast crew had been hoodwinked.
"This unfortunately happens, but there was fake Twitter account for Ian Rapoport at NFL.com. He has not reported that about Steve Smith. So, as far as we know, it is still doubtful for Steve Smith to return with that right foot injury."
The TV critic at The Sun wasn't impressed.
"As most readers will know by the time they read this review, it turns out that Smith actually did suffer a torn Achilles," wrote David Zurawik. "But that doesn't make the reporting of Erdahl and CBS Sports any less egregious.
"The fact that the reporter on the sideline in Baltimore for CBS Sports, which has rights to telecast the game, is citing a tweet (which turns out to be a fake tweet) from someone at NFL.com tells you how little confidence the network has in its own on-site reporting. It also shows how slipshod its editorial controls are in terms of what information it will broadcast to millions of viewers."
Internet Reacts To Tucker Moving His Body
Kicker Justin Tucker is known for his game-winning celebration dances, and his latest had the internet talking. There were some positive reviews and some … not-so-positive reviews.
"After the ball passed through the uprights, his spirit exited his body and was replaced with that of the lovechild of Drake from the Hotline Bling video and Elaine Benes," wrote SB Nation's Rodger Sherman.
"[H]e celebrates and starts doing those horrible little kicks. And my goodness, what's going on with the arms. Just ... no. I'm sorry, Baltimore, but Justin Tucker isn't allowed to kick game-winning field goals anymore. For everybody else's sake. We just can't let him dance anymore."
Oh man, don't be such a buzzkill, SB Nation.
Who cares if it's as good as Drake? It's utterly fun and entertaining to watch.
If you ask me, we need more people who let loose and "dance" in jubilation. Am I right, Trey Wingo? Am I right?
- "Don't know if this represents a turning point, but at least the Ravens gave the home crowd a happy ride home for a change and will be able to spend their bye week sleeping on a victory," wrote Peter Schmuck. [The Baltimore Sun]
- Hensley says that backup left tackle James Hurst's stock is down. "[LT James Hurst] was a liability for most of the game, giving up two sacks on third downs in Chargers territory," wrote Hensley. "Hurst is filling in for Eugene Monroe, who was inactive with a shoulder injury." [ESPN]