Flacco takes blame

The Baltimore Sun

Joe Flacco wasn't any different after two straight losses than he was after two straight wins.

The Ravens quarterback stood at the post-game podium with the same body language he has had for the past month. He answered questions in the same soft-spoken voice. He acknowledged his mistakes bluntly, without a trace of self-pity or dramatic flair.

Joe Cool was still Joe Cool after the Ravens' wrenching, 13-10 loss to the Tennessee Titans yesterday, two critical interceptions notwithstanding. No panic, no finger-pointing, no attempt to evade blame.

That was the good news for Ravens fans.

The bad news came when Flacco got out of the pocket and tried to hit receivers on the run. He threw a second-quarter interception when he rolled right - away from Jevon Kearse - and tried to hit Mark Clayton but found safety Michael Griffin instead.

He threw a fourth-quarter interception, in the final two minutes, when he was chased to his right, looked for Clayton again and found cornerback Nick Harper at the Baltimore 35-yard line. Game, set, match.

"We got the ball back with 1:56 left, and you expect your offense to go down there and put some points on the board, either get into overtime or go get a touchdown to win the game," Flacco said. "But I ran out, choked the ball down and threw it right to the guy. I should've either got it over him or thrown in out of bounds."

Throwing on the run was not kind to Flacco against Tennessee. He avoided a third interception in the first quarter when coach John Harbaugh won a replay challenge. On that play, Flacco once again looked for Clayton and never saw linebacker David Thornton sliding in front of the receiver. The fact that Thornton juggled the ball going out of bounds spared the turnover.

"When I get out of there [the pocket] and I don't have anything, I've got to throw the ball away and be smart with it," Flacco said.

"I'm seeing things just fine. I made a couple bad decisions today, and I've got to get better at that. I've got to realize these guys [the defenders] are going to make plays."

Even though Flacco wasn't sacked by the Titans, they were able to pressure him.

"They didn't get any sacks, but they got him out [of the pocket], pressured him, made him make a couple mistakes," right guard Marshal Yanda said. "That's not his fault. He shouldn't [have to be] scrambling like that; that's when those bad mistakes come. It's tough as a line to swallow. And for me, too. I just don't feel good about it. I could've done a lot better."

Harbaugh had to swallow 11 penalties and reached for a gentle bottom line.

"Sometimes, a young quarterback's vision is not quite as wide as you want it to be," he said when asked about Flacco's difficulties on the perimeter.

Then this assessment:

"I think he is doing a good job. I think he can do a lot better. I think he'll be the first guy to tell you that. We need him to continue to improve. I'm not sure what the measurable standard is ... but I think he is doing well."

Flacco had 18 completions, his most with the Ravens, for 153 yards, his second most. His teammates weren't worried about his frame of mind afterward. They knew better.

"Two weeks ago he was the second coming," wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "Now people are going to start questioning him. That comes with the territory as a quarterback. He's got to be able to deal with that. I think Joe will be OK. I sincerely believe Joe will be OK."

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