4. The Bengals handed the Ravens victory, and Joe Flacco nearly threw it away

Bengals safety Reggie Nelson bailed out Flacco in the first quarter when he slammed into Jacoby Jones for a 48-yard penalty to set up the Ravens¿ first touchdown. Flacco badly underthrew the wide-open Jones, just as he had the previous week on a play that resulted in an interception. Flacco was among the best deep throwers in the league last season. In fact, that was his trademark. Right now, his deep arm doesn't look the same. He threw an interception on an ill-advised attempt, launched as a Bengals defender dragged him to the ground in the second quarter. He threw another when he failed to recognize double coverage in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati defenders dropped two other potential interceptions. Flacco had his moments. He threw well on the run when the Ravens got him out of the pocket. He repeatedly targeted Torrey Smith, who hadn't been a big enough part of the offense in recent weeks. He completed a few key throws on the Ravens' game-winning drive. But he was fortunate the Bengals handed the Ravens so many scoring opportunities and failed to capitalize on his mistakes. During the bye week, I predicted Flacco would improve in the second half, given stability at left tackle and greater familiarity with his receivers. Instead, he's moved in the other direction. If this continues, Sunday's victory will be a momentary respite in a grim season for the Ravens. Flacco knows this as well as anyone. "We struggled man," he said after the win. "We've got to get better."
Christopher T. Assaf, Baltimore Sun
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