By Edward Lee
3:55 PM EST, November 16, 2011
Joe Flacco is one of the most mild-mannered players in the NFL. But – as demonstrated Wednesday – even he has his limits.
A hotly-discussed topic around Baltimore since Sunday’s 22-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks has been the Ravens’ decision to ask the quarterback drop back a career-high 53 times and yet hand the ball off to running back Ray Rice just five times.
For the contest, the offense ran 54 pass plays and 12 run plays.
So when a reporter asked Flacco if he noticed the disparity during the game, the fourth-year player fired back.
“What do you think is going to happen when there’s five minutes left in the third quarter and you’re down, 22-7?” he replied. “It happened in the Arizona Cardinals game, too. We won, and nobody was complaining about it then.”
Flacco has a point. The Ravens trailed the Cardinals, 24-3, with 3:46 left in the second quarter. From that point, the offense ran 40 pass plays and 11 run plays to eventually pull away with a 30-27 victory.
After Flacco’s retort, he was asked whether he takes such questions personally.
“It doesn’t make sense,” he said, never raising his voice. “Did you watch the game? I understand the way our running backs feel. If we were throwing the ball 10 times, I’d be a little upset that I didn’t get to put my stamp on the game either. But did you see how the game went? We came out, and the interception came on a run play. They took that away from us on that side. So we passed, and they picked it off. It was 22-7 with probably eight minutes left in the third quarter. We were down by 15. You have to score pretty much on every possession. You can’t assume that they’re not going to score, and you can’t assume that you’re going to have eight possessions left. You might have three possessions left in the game. That’s the kind of game that we played. We didn’t have a lot of possessions. We weren’t perfect, but we weren’t terrible either. We moved the ball all game, and things didn’t go our way. Like I said, when you look at the run-pass ratio, watch the football game, and you should understand why we threw the ball that many times and why we ran the ball that many times.”
For the season, Flacco has attempted 361 passes, which dwarfs the 297 throws he made through the first nine games of last season. Flacco is currently on pace to finish with 642 attempts, which would shatter the franchise record of 549 passes set by Vinny Testaverde in 1996.
Then again, the offense has had to ask Flacco to drop back more to overcome late deficits. The Ravens have been in a hole in the third quarter in five contests this season.
So it’s not out of the realm of normalcy that Flacco has had to throw the ball to get the team on the right side of the ledger. The risk of sacks and interceptions is there, but as Flacco repeated a little later, the objective is to gain yards and points as quickly as possible and not consume much time off the clock.
“Like I said, what do you expect? We were down 22-7,” he said. “This is the NFL. You’ve got to put points on the board, and you’ve got to do it fast. Having a three-and-out, well, at least you didn’t eat up eight minutes of clock and not get any points.”
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