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Flacco could have big game vs. Lions, Ravens will likely need him to

OWINGS MILLS - The Detroit Lions are one of the best teams in the NFL at throwing the football. They're also one of the worst teams at stopping other teams from throwing it.
The Ravens need a win Monday night. If they lose, they fall a game back of the Miami Dolphins with two weeks left in regular season. Whether they get that win, though, could largely be determined by whether quarterback Joe Flacco can take advantage of that bad Detroit pass defense.
Theoretically, he should be able to.
The Lions are sixth in the league against the run, but they are eighth-worst vs. the pass and will likely be without both starting cornerbacks. Safety Louis Delmas, meanwhile, will be playing with a knee injury.
Baltimore also feels good about where its passing game is at this point regardless of the matchup.
Flacco has played better during the last month or so. Tight end Dennis Pitta is back from the hip injury that sidelined him for the first 12 games. And wide receiver Jacoby Jones is back healthy and back to being a difference maker.
"We've just got to execute what we do, more than anything else," Jones said.
Flacco struggled some in the snow last week. He threw three interceptions. But he also threw three touchdowns, including a go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter and later a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds after the Minnesota Vikings had retaken the lead.
Teammates feel like he is playing his best football of the year.
His numbers from the last few games still aren't anything that will jump off the page, but he was 17 of 26 for 273 yards with a touchdown and an interception that wasn't his fault against the New York Jets Nov. 4 and was 24 of 35 for 251 yards with a touchdown in leading the Ravens to a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving.
"They have gotten good contributions in their passing game from a lot of different people," Lions coach Jim Schwartz said. "Torrey Smith - I think everybody knows the explosive plays that he can bring. Jacoby Jones [brings] the same thing. I tell you what, the rookie has really done well, too - Marlon Brown.
"He is a guy that every week seems to have gotten a little bit more confidence and had a little bigger role. With him on the rise and then adding Pitta into that offense, that certainly gives Flacco more targets to be able to go to with the ball."
Also working in Flacco's is that there won't be any snow or any other sort of problematic weather to deal with since Ford Field is an indoor stadium.
"I gave the players the weather report [Friday] morning in the meeting, and I said it's going to be 72 and calm." Ravens special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg said.
A big key for Baltimore will be protecting Flacco against a talented Lions defensive front.
Detroit's first-round pick, defensive end, Ezekiel Ansah, has seven sacks, including four in the last three games. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh has 5.5 sacks. Defensive tackle Nick Fairley, defensive end Willie Young and middle linebacker Stephen Tulloch all also have three or more sacks.
If the offensive line gives him time, though, Flacco could have a lot of success in a game that became even more important for the Ravens with the Dolphins beating the New England Patriots Sunday.
"They've got some great guys up front that can create a lot of havoc, so the line has a great challenge ahead of them," Baltimore tight end Dallas Clark said. "But Detroit plays a lot of [man defense].
"And it's tough, if we can get some time, to hold up one-on-one as much as they play it, so there's plays to be had if guys on the line can win their matchups."

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