Flacco's Clutch Ranking High Among NFL QBs
That might be the best adjective to describe quarterback Joe Flacco. At least, it's certainly up there with "cool." (Clutch Joe Cool?)
Even though he doesn't come close to putting up Peyton Manning, Drew Brees or Tom Brady-type overall numbers, Flacco always seems to come alive when it matters most.
"There is always going to be a running debate about whether Flacco is elite. But Flacco is clutch, and it's hard to dispute otherwise," wrote ESPN's Jamison Hensley.
His fourth-quarter 82.1 QBR (Total Quarterback Rating), is the third best among all NFL quarterbacks, per ESPN. Manning and Andrew Luck are Nos. 1 and 2, respectively. Flacco is second in fourth-quarter touchdowns (8), only trailing Manning (11).
His late-game success even continues to get better deeper into the season.
In the last five minutes of games since October, Flacco has the best QBR (96.9) and passer rating (132.4) in the league.
"[D]uring the most important part of the game, there have been few better than Flacco this season," wrote Hensley.
In Sunday's game against the Vikings, after throwing three interceptions on the first 13 drives, Flacco marched the offense on scoring drives of 64 and 80 yards in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
He threw the game-winning pass to receiver Marlon Brown through a tight window the size of a basketball hoop, according to the Sports Science video below (mobile users tap "View in Browser" at the top of the page to watch).
"Flacco can look so pedestrian for most of the game and then look so brilliant when the game is on the line," Hensley wrote. "Flacco has received a lot of criticism because his overall numbers don't reflect his $120.6 million contract. He is tied for the third-most interceptions thrown this season (17) and ranks 30th in passer rating (77.0).
"To find his best numbers, you need to look at crunch time. Flacco's best quarter this season has been the fourth, and it isn't even close."
Flacco To Elam: What Are You Thinking, Dude?
You don't poke a sleeping bear, right?
Well, that's what rookie safety Matt Elam did when he called Lions receiver Calvin Johnson, a.k.a. Megatron, "pretty old."
Head Coach John Harbaugh didn’t appreciate Elam's comments, and neither did Flacco.
"You just kind of look at him and say 'Dude, what are you thinking? It's Calvin Johnson,'" Flacco told Detroit reporters.
To help Elam prepare for the madness that will be coming his way Monday night, Flacco said he'll be taking extra shots at the rookie in practice.
That said, neither Flacco nor Harbaugh think Elam meant any disrespect to Johnson.
"When you hear the whole quote], he heaped justified praise on Calvin Johnson,” Harbaugh said, per The Detroit News. “And basically what he said was, ‘Boy [if I’m going to have any chance, I guess this is going to be it.'"
Chargers Stun Broncos, Creeping Up On Ravens
Ooooooh, the Chargers are making things even more interesting for that final AFC wild-card spot.
They marched into Denver and upset the Broncos in front of the nation, 27-20. No other team has beaten the Broncos at home this season.
Now, San Diego (7-7) is just a half game behind Baltimore (7-6) in the playoff race. The Chargers' final two opponents this season are against the Raiders and Chiefs at home, and the Chiefs may have nothing to play for in Week 17.
The Chargers and Dolphins certainly aren't making things easy on the Ravens.
"At worst], Ravens have to [finish 2-1," tweeted The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec.
Below are the AFC standings:
|AFC PLAYOFF STANDINGS|
|Broncos [clinched playoff berth]||11||3||4-1||7-3|
|Colts [clinched division]||8||5||4-0||6-3|
|In The Hunt||W||L||DIV||CONF|
Week 15 Picks: Ravens vs. Lions
Only 10 of 42 analysts below believe the Ravens can march into Ford Field and pull off the upset. Vegas has Detroit as six-point favorites.
The Ravens haven't played well on the road this season (1-5), but it's crunch time, Flacco finally has his full arsenal of receivers and Ray Rice is showing more burst. Also …
"The Ravens know how to get the playoffs," wrote ProFootballTalk.com's Mike Florio. "The Lions know how to not get to the playoffs."
**The Baltimore Sun**: 2 of 7 pick the Ravens
Jeff Zrebiec (Lions 31, Ravens 20) "John Harbaugh is right. The Ravens will have to play their best game this season to beat the Lions. Considering that they haven't played well on the road all year and they struggle against good defensive fronts, I don't like their chances of doing that Monday night."
Aaron Wilson (Ravens 24, Lions 21): "Winning just one of their previous six road games, the Ravens seem due for a rare victory away from Baltimore against a banged-up Lions team that's prone to turnovers lately. Despite matchup problems with defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and wide receiver Calvin Johnson, the Ravens will extend their winning streak to four games."
**ProFootballTalk.com**: 1 of 2 pick the Ravens
Michael David Smith (Lions 24, Ravens 21): "The NFC North is wide open for the Lions, and yet the Lions aren't playing like a team that wants to take it, with losses in three of their last four games even though they had fourth-quarter leads in all three. And yet I believe the Lions are going to show up on Monday night and make a statement against a Ravens team that is also fighting for a playoff spot."
Mike Florio (Ravens 30, Lions 27): "The Ravens know how to get the playoffs. The Lions know how to not get to the playoffs."
**Sports Illustrated, Don Banks**: (Lions 30, Ravens 21):
"Hard to fathom what Ravens rookie safety Matt Elam was thinking (or if he was thinking), but calling Calvin Johnson 'pretty old' would be foolish even if Megatron wasn't only 28 and still very much in the prime of his career. Elam, 22, said this week the Ravens have to get physical in coverage against Johnson, because 'he's pretty old, so I don't know how physical he'll be. He's a big guy, but he's older. I guess when they get older they're not going to be as physical.' Good luck with that approach, Matt, now that you've got Mr. Johnson's attention."
**CBSSports.com, Pete Prisco**: (Lions 27, Ravens 17):
"This is a huge game for both teams. Both teams are in the thick of the playoff race. The Ravens are a better offense now that Dennis Pitta is back, and the defense is playing well. But beating the Lions in Detroit is tough to do. I see Matt Stafford with a big game here and the Detroit defense gets all after Joe Flacco. Lions take it."
**The Sporting News, Vinnie Iyer**: (Ravens 26, Lions 23)"The 7-6 Ravens are 4-4 in games decided by a field goal or less. The 7-6 Lions are 2-2 in such contests. This is bound to be another photo finish for both teams. Consider how Cincinnati and Tampa Bay took it to Detroit at Ford Field, and that Baltimore presents a physical defensive challenge with some good offensive firepower to match. Must be the rings, but in a critical, close game, it's easier to trust Joe Flacco and John Harbaugh than Matt Stafford and Jim Schwartz."
**FoxSports.com, Peter Schrager**: (Ravens 23, Lions 21)
"The defending champion Ravens have had eight games decided by three points or fewer this season. Calvin Johnson usually saves his best for the big stage, but we're talking about Joe Flacco in a big road game. There are few quarterbacks I'd rather have. Lions fans, hide your eyes. I'm taking the Ravens on a last-second Justin Tucker field goal."
- "Elvis Dumervil obviously has more than a bruise," wrote Aaron Wilson in a fan chat. "He's got to have a sprain as well, which is what we were initially told. Not practicing today would lead me to think he's still bothered moderately by it and they are hoping to build in as much rest as possible. I'd be shocked if he's not playing Monday night and at a decent mobility level." [The Baltimore Sun]
- Hey Aaron, can we start guzzling the purple Kool-Aid on the Ravens offense now that Dennis Pitta is back? "It was definitely better, but I would keep in mind that's a bad Vikings defense and factor that into your evaluation," Wilson responded. "I wouldn't start guzzling the Kool-Aid just yet because there are still issues with Joe Flacco's streaky game, the offensive line, Ray Rice not breaking tackles and a lack of a proven slot receiver. I think it's an improvement, but we've seen enough evidence that this offense has real problems that can't all be fixed during the season." [The Baltimore Sun]
- @mzenitz: The Ravens have allowed 16 passing plays of 40 yards this year, the most in the NFL. DET is third in the league in completions of 20 yards [Twitter]
- @mattvensel: Nice to see Jimmy [Smith] loosening up and letting his personality show a little bit more this season. That happens when you start playing well. [Twitter]
- @RobertKlemko: I hope Matt Elam comes out of Monday night with his dignity intact, but I don't think it will happen. [Twitter]
- Former Ravens linebacker Paul Kruger is finally rewarding the Browns for that big contract. He sacked Tom Brady twice Sunday. "I definitely haven't had the season I wanted to as far as numbers go," Kruger said. [CSNBaltimore.com]
- "Whether it was Ray Lewis or Dannell Ellerbe manning the middle or Jameel McClain or Josh Bynes, Ravens inside linebackers did not defend the pass well last season," wrote Vensel. "In his first season in Baltimore, Daryl] [Smith is proving he can still get it done in that regard. Smith grades out second among NFL inside linebackers in pass coverage." [The Baltimore Sun]
- This is precious. Check out the ferocious Vonta Leach help two little girls pick out new cute new clothes at Target. He was the host of the ninth-annual Holiday Helpers. [CSNBaltimore.com]