The Ravens' offensive line protected Joe Flacco extremely well Sunday, which he appreciated heading into Thursday night's quick turnaround game in Cincinnati.
Flacco didn't need extra treatment to recover during a short week. The Buffalo Bills rarely touched him, sacking him just once. Even that sack was suspect. Flacco nearly made it back to the line of scrimmage, but the Bills were credited with their lone sack.
"That's kind of a shame," Flacco said. "I wish I would've lunged out another foot. It doesn't matter to me, but those guys (offensive line) take pride in that.
"They did a great job, and I told them that. We were able to extend a few plays. I was able to stand back there and do those things because they were really holding guys up."
The Ravens offensive line will have a sterner test Thursday facing a Bengals defensive line led by star tackle Geno Atkins and defensive end Carlos Dunlap. Atkins and Dunlap had a sack apiece Sunday during the Bengals' victory against the Indianapolis Colts. The Ravens offensive line looks forward to the challenge.
"I definitely remember from last year about how good a defense they are," Ravens center Matt Skura said. "He (Atkins) definitely lives up to the hype; he's strong, he's quick, he's really smart – everything that makes it tough on an offensive lineman."
Week 1 was the debut of the 2018 offensive line featuring Ronnie Stanley at left tackle, Alex Lewis at left guard, Skura at center, Marshal Yanda at right guard, and James Hurst at right tackle. They never played together as a full unit during the preseason, making it harder to predict how quickly they would gel. Some questions were answered in Week 1, with Flacco throwing for three touchdowns and the Ravens rushing for 117 yards.
"Marshal and I looked at each other at one point in the game and said, 'This is great, to get started like this,''' Lewis said. "He missed all of last year. It was awesome, a good starting point."
But Lewis admitted the Bengals will give the offensive line a better read on where it stands.
"They're very strong up front, they're explosive off the ball, and we're going to face them again later in the year," Lewis said. "This will be good to see where we're at in the division, and how good we really are."
Ravens' Second-and-26 Conversion Could Mean Something Bigger
It was second-and-26 from the Ravens' 40-yard line after a botched handoff/fumble and a holding penalty that erased a 14-yard run.
The odds of picking up a first down were not good, and in years past, it wouldn't have been surprising to see the Ravens play it cautiously, especially given the steady downpour at M&T Bank Stadium.
Instead, Joe Flacco rolled to his right, drawing the entire Bills defense in that direction. On the opposite side, wide receiver John Brown ran an elongated "S" route and found himself wide open. Flacco heaved it across the field and the Ravens converted with a 29-yard gain.
After the game, Flacco called it "huge," and said the Ravens may not have made such a big offensive statement without that play.
But could that play be a sign of something even bigger when looked back on later this year? On Tuesday, Flacco said "that's the plan."
"That's definitely who we want to be," he added. "We want to be aggressive, and I hope we can continue to say that every week."
"Since I came in from Day 1, we've been aggressive – no matter the situation," Brown added. "The players are with it and the coaches are with it. As long as we keep staying aggressive, we'll see a lot of that."
Javorius Allen Relished Seeing Three Running Backs Reach End Zone
Not often do the Ravens have three running backs score in the same game. It happened Sunday when Alex Collins, Javorius Allen and Kenneth Dixon all reached the end zone.
Dixon suffered a knee injury late in the game and missed practice Monday and Tuesday, raising concern about his status for Thursday. However, Allen said all three Ravens backs view themselves as starters and Head Coach John Harbaugh indicated Monday that Baltimore could use just two backs if needed.
"That's pretty amazing," Allen said about each back scoring. "One thing that's special about our group, no matter who it is, we're always going to rock out like we're that guy. Everybody in our room is a starter; that's how we look at it. It's a group effort. If he scores, we all score."
Many NFL teams have gone to a running-back-by-committee system, and the Ravens are following that trend. With Collins, Allen and Dixon, they have the depth to make their committee successful.
Brandon Carr Won't Dodge Talk of Revenge Game Against Bengals
Some players say facing the Bengals won't feel any different after a Week 17 loss to Cincinnati that kept the Ravens from making the playoffs last season.
Veteran cornerback Brandon Carr, who was on the field and dove trying to bring down Bengals wide receiver Tyler Boyd on the fourth-and-12 touchdown, says don't buy the talk. It's more than just another game.
"If I were to say 'no,' I'd be lying," Carr said. "We've still got that bitter taste in our mouths.
"But this is a new year, new look, new opportunity for us to go out there and set the tone early. [There are] some things we want back from that game, but that's the past. This year – we're 1-0 right now, we have a short week, have a big opponent, have to go there to play in front of their crowd. It's going to be an intense game, but we're focused, we're ready. We're just excited to play another game of football."
Joe Flacco Amped About Seeing His Brother Play Quarterback at Towson
Flacco could not help gushing with pride when asked how he felt seeing his brother, Tom Flacco, play quarterback for Towson. Tom is a graduate transfer from Rutgers who won the starting job.
"It's kind of unique that he's right here," Flacco said. "I've been waiting to see him play for the last three years. I've been really itching to watch him play college football. So I had a big smile on my face the last two weeks."
Joe attended the game at Morgan State in Baltimore City and streamed the game against Wake Forest. Tom was 35-of-51 for 345 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in a 51-20 loss.
"He's a really good player, great athlete, can really throw the ball. Obviously he's my brother so I have a little bias," Joe said. "I would say he's got a lot of similarities to me, but he's six-foot. He's got to get things done in a lot different ways. He probably doesn't get credit for some of the things big tall guys do, but he can do a lot of things. I mean, I'll go all day. I had a lot of fun watching him."
Has Marvin Lewis Grown Tired of Facing Terrell Suggs? Yes. Does Lewis Respect Suggs? Yes
Marvin Lewis became the Bengals head coach in 2003, the year Suggs entered the NFL. Having faced Suggs for so long, Lewis has great respect for the Ravens' all-time sack leader (126).
Suggs' 12 ½ career sacks against the Bengals are his most against any team except the Cleveland Browns (18) and Pittsburgh Steelers (15).
"I've seen it all, from (his) collegiate workout day at ASU (Arizona St.) all the way through," Lewis said during a conference call. "He's been an outstanding player and obviously has done a tremendous job. I sit here and witness him and (Ben) Roethlisberger and some of these guys in this division far too long. I make our people well aware of his football intelligence. I see him play 16 games a year. Even if we're not preparing for them, I've seen their tape generally throughout the season, looking at our other opponents. I see how football-smart he is."
Suggs had one sack in Week 1 and is currently 16th on the NFL's all-time sack list. Rickey Jackson is in 15th place with 128 sacks.