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Joe Flacco has to figure out how to start faster in games, but the Ravens' quarterback certainly knows how to finish them.

He is the NFL's third-highest-rated quarterback in the fourth quarter this year. Flacco ranks ahead of the likes of Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady.

No quarterback has thrown for more yards in the fourth quarter than Flacco has (684). No quarterback has passed for more touchdowns in the fourth than he has (seven).

Flacco has really heated up in the fourth quarter the past two games.

In rallying the Ravens from a 17-point deficit at Minnesota, he was 10-for-16 passing for 196 yards and two touchdowns. In finishing off the Denver Broncos last Sunday, he completed all three of his throws for 50 yards and a touchdown.

That breaks down to three touchdowns for Flacco on his last 19 fourth-quarter passes. In the past two fourth quarters, his average completion has been for 18.9 yards.

But Flacco has been excellent in the fourth quarter all season. He has passed for at least one fourth-quarter touchdown in six of his seven games (the only time he didn't was at San Diego in Week 2).

There was the 31-yard touchdown strike to Mark Clayton that broke a 24-24 tie with the Kansas City Chiefs in the season opener. There was the 72-yard touchdown pass to Derrick Mason that finished off the rout of the Cleveland Browns.

Flacco hit Willis McGahee for a 13-yard touchdown that closed the gap in New England, and he connected with Ray Rice for a 48-yard score that temporarily put the Ravens ahead of the Cincinnati Bengals.

In Minnesota, he had scoring passes of 32 yards to Clayton and 12 yards to Mason. Last Sunday, he delivered a 20-yard touchdown pass to Mason.

The next step for Flacco is starting the game the way he ends it. In the first quarter this season, he has passed for 372 yards - slightly more than half of his fourth-quarter production (684 yards).

Still, with the Ravens holding a 4-3 record near the midway point of the season, maybe it's best to have a strong finisher like Flacco.

Saving the best for last

The top five quarterbacks in the fourth quarter this season:

Quarterback Team Comp. rate TDs INTs Rating

Brees N.O. 77.8 2 0 129.2

Orton Denver 66.7 4 0 124.2

Flacco Ravens 66.7 7 2 123.5

Manning Indy 78.0 2 0 115.6

Hill S.F. 69.0 3 0 113.5

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