If quarterback Joe Flacco and the Ravens' starting offense doesn't play in St. Louis for the fourth preseason game, the unit will have tied the knot on a turnover-filled preseason Thursday night.
The unit has committed five turnovers in three games. It had three Thursday night against Carolina, including two that were returned for touchdowns.
Flacco has four interceptions in three games. He tossed two against the Carolina Panthers. A third was waived off because of an illegal hit. Flacco had one interception in Tampa Bay and another against Atlanta.
Running back Bernard Pierce added an uncharacteristic fumble Thursday night as well.
"We obviously turned the ball over and you lose more games than you win in this league when you do that," Flacco said at halftime. "With what we did tonight, we're not going to win a lot of football games doing that."
Flacco went on, however.
"At the same time, it was just a lot of miscommunication," he said. "And I felt like we did a lot of really good things too. In the regular season, we're not going to be able to say that."
Flacco threw just 10 interceptions last year. Among full-time starters, only Robert Griffin III, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger had fewer. Flacco has never thrown more than 12 interceptions in a single season.
Head Coach John Harbaugh was asked whether Flacco needed the preseason to get some interceptions out of his system.
"I think it is that, because Joe is not one to throw interceptions, as we all know," Harbaugh said. "We'll be concerned about them – Joe more than anybody. We'll take a hard look at it."
With the trade of Anquan Boldin to the San Francisco 49ers and the potential season-ending hip injury suffered by tight end Dennis Pitta, Flacco lost two of his favorite and most reliable targets from last year.
He has seen a merry-go-round of different receivers this preseason, with the only constants being Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones on the outsides.
Other than that, Tandon Doss, Deonte Thompson, LaQuan Williams and rookies Aaron Mellette and Marlon Brown have all run with the first team. Three more new targets, wide receiver Brandon Stokley and tight ends Visanthe Shiancoe and Dallas Clark, were added mid-training camp.
"A lot of [the turnovers] is he's trying to get a feel for guys," Harbaugh said. "I can't say if everybody was exactly where they were supposed to be on the routes or not – that's the stuff we'll look at."
Taking a look at all of Flacco's interceptions, they weren't entirely his fault. Jones should have come back to the ball more on a sideline hitch route in Tampa Bay. Flacco tried to fire a pass to Jones in traffic against Atlanta, but it ended up bouncing high into the air and being picked off.
Flacco's first interception Thursday night came when Doss went the opposite way he was supposed to when facing a Panthers blitz. It was a miscommunication. Harbaugh said Flacco was throwing to a sight and Doss "obviously was not running the sight."
Flacco's second interception Thursday night came when he tried to zip a ball underneath to Shiancoe while in the red zone. Panthers standout linebacker Luke Kuechly read the play and stepped in front. Of all the interceptions, that one may be most on Flacco's shoulders.
"Joe will be the first to take responsibility – he has always been that way," Harbaugh said. "I don't expect that to be an issue this year, but we've got to make sure it's not."
Pierce's fumble was also odd. As a rookie, he didn't put the ball on the ground once all last season. Kuechly read the play and shot the gap, then punched the ball out of Pierce's hands.
"I scraped tight off the edge, and I don't think he honestly saw me coming," Kuechly said.
Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw an interception, which was also returned for a touchdown, in the third quarter. As a team, the Ravens have seven turnovers through three preseason games. "We proved that we can move the ball down the field," running back Ray Rice said. "We just can't make costly turnovers. We are going to get that stuff corrected. I'm glad we are able to make our mistakes now and get them corrected for later."