Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Ravens optimistic based on Flacco's play vs. Jets

OWINGS MILLS - Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was better Sunday than he had been in more than a month.
Flacco has shown the last two years that he is at his best during critical points of the season.
If he can continue to play like he did against the New York Jets on Sunday - or better - Ravens players feel like the team has a chance to make a run, especially with as well as Baltimore's defense played against the Jets.
"Without a doubt," Ravens tight end Ed Dickson said. "We're tough to beat when Joe plays at a high level like that."
Not like Baltimore starting 4-6 falls solely on Flacco, but Flacco hadn't been very good through 10 games, or at least not to the level many on a national level expected him to be after the way he played in the playoffs last year.
He did throw for in excess of 340 yards three times during the first 10 games, but he threw 13 interceptions in those 10 games, and his quarterback rating heading into the game against the Jets was just 26th among NFL quarterbacks.
He was also just 26th in completion percentage.
But Sunday was a step forward for Flacco.
He was uncharacteristically off-target on some throws down the field in previous games, which had cost Baltimore chances at some big plays, but he threw a perfect ball to Torrey Smith that produced a 60-yard gain and also had a 66-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones.
He finished an efficient 17 of 26.
He did have an interception, but coach John Harbaugh and Smith said later that the interception wasn't Flacco's fault. They said that rookie wide receiver Marlon Brown ran a route incorrectly on the play, which led to the interception.
"Joe played well," Ravens fullback Vonta Leach said. "He made a lot of big plays for us, with his arm and with his legs."
The stats aren't anything overly special, but 273 yards is still very solid, especially considering the wind factor. It was also the most yards Flacco had thrown for since the middle of October.
"The best is yet to come with Joe," Dickson said. "Joe's still an elite quarterback. And we've got to win games, so look for him to step up."
Even at just 5-6, the Ravens could move into the second AFC Wild Card spot with a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday night and a Tennessee Titans loss to the Indianapolis Colts loss on Sunday.
They would also move just a game back of first place in the AFC North should they beat the Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals lose at San Diego.
But especially with as bad as Baltimore's running game continues to be, Flacco will be key on Thursday and will be key going forward.
Pittsburgh is ranked 10th in the league in pass defense, but Flacco had one of his better games of the season against the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 7.
He only threw for 215 yards, but he was 24 of 34 with a touchdown and no interceptions.
"As a team, we need to all start playing our best football," Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "We all know we need to make a run, and [Joe] is our quarterback. We're going to do it on his arm. We've done it on his arm in the past, and nothing is going to change that way."