Joe Flacco took a licking and kept on ticking

The Ravens quarterback impressed with his tenacity, not his stats

Joe Flacco

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco throws a pass against the Miami Dolphins in the first quarter. (Lloyd Fox, Baltimore Sun / October 6, 2013)

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla.

Joe Flacco's numbers hardly told the story. They were mediocre, but Flacco wasn't. The greatness of his play was drenched in a T-shirt, soiled on his pants and clearly evident from the slow walk out of the locker room.

The only thing missing was a little blood out of the side of his mouth, like one of those old John Wayne Westerns.

Flacco carried the Ravens on a hot, humid Sunday here in October. He didn't have Peyton Manning or Tom Brady statistics, but he had grit which allowed him to stand up against a strong Dolphins pass rush and lead the Ravens to victory.

Flacco's best moments from Sunday's game won't appear in many highlights, but he left another great impression with his teammates, and coach John Harbaugh.

"Joe doesn't ever get fazed, he never gets rattled," Harbaugh said. "Joe it seems, never gets shaken. Joe is not the kind of guy that's going to get rattled. That's just who he is. That's part of his greatness."

Flacco had a few reasons to become unnerved Sunday. The Ravens had only three receivers and no running game in the first half. They made a bonehead call midway in the fourth quarter and were without starting left guard Kelechi Osemele.

Even worse, left offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie was allowing traffic through as if he were a downtown New York cop at rush hour. The result was Flacco getting knocked around.

He rarely had time to throw. Shoot, sometimes he couldn't even follow through on his motion. That's tough.

"I don't know," said Flacco, when asked if he had ever been hit so much in a pro game. "I'll have to go back and see how many times I was hit. When you're out in the middle of the game, you don't really pay attention to that stuff. You kind of just get up, you throw the next pass and you move on."

Officially, Flacco was sacked twice and hurried six other times. Unofficially, there were times when Flacco and Miami defenders seemed joined at the hip. When he got hit, Ravens fans everywhere had to cringe.

Those Ali-Frazier epic fights never had these kind of beat downs.

But Flacco didn't complain. He didn't yell at anyone. He even kept throwing the ball to tight end Ed Dickson, who had two catches and now has five for the season.

"We'll fix that," said Ravens running back Ray Rice of the protection schemes. "Some miscommunication up front. Sometimes, a guy got beat. But Joe is Joe. He sticks in the pocket. He even had to run for a first down. Joe did his job today and very well. We both had a mishap, the ball got tipped and got taken. But we just have the mentality of just get to the next play. That's just who we are."

Flacco completed 19 of 32 passes for 269 yards and had a quarterback rating of 73.6. He kept his team from falling apart in the first half when the Ravens could manage only two field goals and 146 yards of offense.

The second half belonged to Flacco, wide receiver Torrey Smith and the running game. The Ravens scored 10 unanswered points to open the third quarter.

On the first drive which ended on a 2-yard touchdown run by Rice, Flacco kept the drive alive by scrambling for 14 yards on a third-and-5 at the Ravens 25. Imagine that, Flacco running like Michael Vick.

On the next scoring drive of 73 yards, Flacco completed passes of 5, 8, 40 and 7 yards before Tucker converted a 25-yard field goal. On the 40-yard pass to receiver Tandon Doss, Flacco was wearing a Miami defender like an ankle bracelet and still got the pass off.

Then on the Ravens last possession, Flacco and Smith teamed up twice for 44 yards during a 94-yard touchdown drive. The Dolphins had no answer for Smith all afternoon, especially after Flacco started getting more time to throw in the second half.

"I think everybody gets frustrated to some level.," Flacco said. "It's our job to use that frustration in a positive way and go back out there in the second half and try to wear them down a little bit. In the first half, we tried a couple of quick routs. When you're getting pressure, you've got to get the ball our of your hands quickly to someone.

"In the second half, our receivers started getting some separation down field and our offensive line started to gain more confidence."

 
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