Five Things We Learned from the Ravens' 41-7 loss to the New England Patriots
Before we look toward Sunday's season finale in Cincinnati, Childs Walker analyzes what he learned from the Ravens' disappointing home loss to the New England Patriots.
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2. Joe Flacco didn¿t look healthy enough to give the Ravens a good chance( Rob Carr, Getty Images / December 22, 2013 )
No one in Baltimore should ever question Flacco's determination. From the moment he took a helmet to the left knee Monday night, we all assumed he'd play against the Patriots. And of course, he did.
It's one of his best qualities, really. No matter the conditions, no matter how brutal the punishment, Flacco keeps firing week after week, season after season.
That said, he looked terribly uncomfortable in the first half against the Patriots. He couldn't plant to throw with his usual oomph and couldn't escape when the Patriots closed on him.
His difficulties gave Tom Brady and the Patriots all the window they needed to take a commanding lead.
The Ravens lost a potential touchdown on their first possession when Flacco threw well short of a streaking Torrey Smith. On the next possession, he threw an interception because he couldn't loft the ball over a Patriots linebacker to an open Jacoby Jones.
It's hard to know how much to blame the injury. This wasn't the first game in which Flacco had underthrown open receivers downfield. But his left leg, wrapped in a bulky brace, appeared stiff when he planted to throw. On the third possession, he fell down while moving in open space.
In part because of Flacco's physical difficulties, the Ravens offense didn't take a snap in Patriots territory until the second half.
None of this is meant as a criticism of the team's franchise player. He did what he could, even throwing noticeably better as the Ravens tried to rally late. But this time, his toughness wasn't enough to overcome basic physical reality.
It has to be a concern going into next week, with the Ravens facing a do-or-die game.