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Joe Flacco's success under pressure determines Ravens' fate

Joe Flacco throws the ball away while being dragged down by James Harrison on Sunday night.
Joe Flacco throws the ball away while being dragged down by James Harrison on Sunday night. (Gregory Shamus, Getty Images)

Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco acknowledged Wednesday that Pittsburgh's pass rush got to him and his team in Sunday's 43-23 loss to the Steelers, and the game's results showed it.

Flacco's splits under pressure go a long way toward determining how he and the Ravens fare. When he and the offensive line handle pressure well, the Ravens win. When Flacco doesn't complete passes while under pressure, the team loses.

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Flacco was pressured 16 times on 49 dropbacks Sunday, according to Pro Football Focus, and he completed five of 12 passes when pressured. In the four losses combined, Flacco is 16 of 46 (34.8-percent) when pressured, according to PFF. That number rises to 23 of 42 (54.8-percent) in the Ravens' five victories.

"I feel like we've been doing pretty well against it," Flacco said. "I think last week, obviously, they got to us a little bit. But for the most part, it wasn't guys that were coming straight free. It was just a good job by them. We could have done on a better job on some of them."

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The struggles in losses could be related to the pressure actually reaching home. Twelve of the 13 sacks against the Ravens this year have occurred in losses, and those could impact Flacco's timing and reads in such a situation.

While many of the sacks came against an offensive line without starters Kelechi Osemele and Eugene Monroe, the first-team unit gave up four sacks Sunday against the Steelers and is still battling health issues. Right guard Marshal Yanda missed Wednesday's practice with a knee injury and center Jeremy Zuttah sat out with an ankle injury.

With a strong and well-rested Tennessee Titans defensive front waiting for the Ravens on Sunday, another week of pressure for Flacco could be on deck.

Flacco said such issues can be alleviated by making the quick outlet reads offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak has installed in the offense.

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"In this offense, for the most part, you have to find at least a spot to get the ball out to," Flacco said. "And sometimes it's going to be for a big play, and sometimes, it's going to be a smart play, which is a throwaway. It just depends on the situation, and each of those is individual."

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