There has been much talk about Joe Flacco after his standout performance in the season-opener. However, Flacco is often a topic of conversation, something the Ravens are adept at dealing with.
Head Coach John Harbaugh drew laughs Monday when asked if he saw a "different" Flacco this season.
"It's the same Joe Flacco," Harbaugh said. "Nobody has taken over his body, it's not a different person, it's just the same guy doing his job as well as he can. That's really all there is to it."
Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs has been with Flacco since he was as rookie in 2008. Suggs agreed with Harbaugh's assessment that Flacco knows how to deal with the highs and lows of being a starting quarterback.
"We know what Joe's capable of doing," Suggs said after Sunday's game. "We practice with the guy. We know how hard he works. In this league, win, lose or draw, no matter how good you play, if you lose, you know the quarterback is always going to take the fall for it. So, he understands that. We understand that. We've got to have his back."
Flacco was clearly in rhythm Sunday, completing 25 of 34 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns. Only four quarterbacks posted higher quarterback ratings (before Monday night's game's) than Flacco's 121.7 in Week 1. Whether Flacco seems different or not this season, what he is doing is clearly working.
Janarion Grant's Debut at Returner Was Not Boring
He almost scored a touchdown with a scintillating 51-yard punt return that set up a field goal by Justin Tucker. But Janarion Grant also muffed a punt and was fortunate the ball rolled out of bounds afterward, allowing the Ravens to retain position following a wild scramble.
As an undrafted rookie who battled to make the team, Grant knows every return is crucial. His aggressiveness helped earn him a job. Now he must avoid turnovers to keep it.
"That was just my technique (on the fumble)," Grant said after the 47-3 win. "I opened my shoulders up a little more to the right. If I would have stayed square, I would have caught the ball with no problem. You have to be aware of that, especially in these conditions. You have to protect the ball. That's the No. 1 thing."
Grant may not face tougher conditions all season than he faced Sunday, fielding seven punts and one kickoff return in rainy, windy conditions. Grant must continue to show he will avoid turnovers, the kind of mistakes that can change a game's momentum.
"I thought he did well, he didn't do a great job on the one that bounced off his chest obviously," Harbaugh said. "It's a left-footed punter that turned the ball over and drove it. The ball was slick, but he never got squared up in front of the trajectory of the ball. … That's something that he's really got to learn from quick. But other than that, I thought he did a really good job. Got North and South, protected the football, made a big play for us. I was happy with it."
The Ravens already knew Grant had playmaking ability from watching his college tape at Rutgers where he scored eight touchdowns as a returner. He displayed that explosiveness again on the 51-yard punt return, when he broke several tackles and brought the crowd at M&T Bank Stadium to its feet. Grant was angry he didn't score a touchdown, but it was still an impressive return.
"I know I broke a couple of tackles, but I wouldn't have been able to get that far without my teammates," Grant said. "Very gratifying. Just showing the coaches what I can do out there each and every play."
Grant will face another test Thursday night, returning punts in his first regular-season road game against the Cincinnati Bengals. It did not sound like Grant planned to lose his aggressiveness.
"We have many more games ahead," Grant said. "I'm looking forward to taking one to the house."
Containing Bengals RB Joe Mixon Will Be Focal Point for Ravens Defense
After shutting down LeSean McCoy of the Bills (seven carries, 22 yards), the Ravens will face another shifty back Thursday in Joe Mixon. In Sunday's victory over the Colts, Mixon had 17 carries for 95 yards and a touchdown, along with five catches for 54 yards.
"He reminds you of Le'Veon Bell," Ravens inside linebacker C. J. Mosley said. "Very physical at the line of scrimmage and he can make plays in the passing game. He's an all-around threat. We just have to make sure we do our best to contain him."
Mixon's teammate, wide receiver A. J. Green, said after the Bengals' 34-23 win that he believes Mixon should be placed in the same category as Pittsburgh's Bell and the Los Angeles Rams' Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams. Does, Mosley agree?
"In due time, yeah," Mosley said.
Ravens safety Tony Jefferson was willing to praise Mixon for another reason. Both Jefferson and Mixon played college football at Oklahoma.
"We produce really good ballplayers," Jefferson said smiling. "Shout-out to Joe. He's really turned into a complete back. He can catch out of the backfield, and he's obviously been doing a great job running the rock."
Challenge of Short Week Is More Physical Than Mental
The Ravens have little time to prepare for Thursday's game in Cincinnati, but they are facing a familiar AFC North opponent. Getting their bodies to recover quickly from Sunday's game will be a top priority for players.
"I think it's more the physical, getting guys ready to go play," Harbaugh said. "It's a tough sport. It's a physical game. It's really four days and we'll be right back out there doing it again. Getting your bodies right is probably the most challenging thing."
For both the Ravens and Bengals, it's an opportunity to go 2-0 less than two weeks into the season and take an early lead in the AFC North.
"Games keep coming," Harbaugh said. "Not as quick as baseball and basketball, but this is close."