Although he finished the game unhurt, Flacco appeared to be feeling the effects of being punished by the Indianapolis Colts' relentless pass rush.
It was that kind of day for Flacco and the Ravens' offensive line during a 20-13 defeat to the Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. The former Super Bowl Most Valuable Player was sacked four times and hit six times overall. The offensive line failed to adequately protect Flacco and he was frequently unable to get the football out in time to outmaneuver Colts defensive coordinator Greg Manusky's blitz packages and stunts.
"We got ourselves in some situations, especially in a tough environment," Ravens center Jeremy Zuttah said. "They did a good job. It's a lot of technique stuff. The positive is we can fix it.
"They're good and their ends are up-the-field guys who get a good jump on the ball. I don't think it was anything too exotic. It's something they do in the NFL. We just have to do a better job."
The game ended the Ravens' streak of three games in a row without allowing a sack. It's the most sacks the Ravens have allowed in a game since a Dec. 22, 2013, loss to the New England Patriots when they also gave up four sacks.
"Their coaches did a good job of scheming, and their players did a good job of executing," Ravens left offensive guard Kelechi Osemele said. "There were a few times out there where we just didn't have the numbers to block everybody. That's a testament to them."
In some cases, the pass-blocking breakdowns were attributable to overload situations where the Ravens simply didn't have enough blockers to account for the extra defenders attacking the pocket. In several instances, though, the Colts simply overwhelmed undrafted rookie offensive tackle James Hurst with outside speed rushes.
"I know they came after us a pretty good amount," Flacco said. "Some of those times on third down, whenever we were in five-man protections and they come after us, there's a spot to go with the ball and we weren't quite able to make those plays.
"You have to credit those guys for having the confidence to come after it and cover in the back end and do their thing. But we wish we could have hurt them a little bit more because they did come after us a little bit and you want to be able to take advantage of that."
An Indianapolis native who wasn't in the locker room after the game for interviews, Hurst allowed three sacks in his second NFL start.
Colts outside linebacker Bjoern Werner, a 6-foot-3, 257-pound former Florida State standout, beat Hurst twice for sacks. Hurst also allowed safety Sergio Brown to loop around him to sack Flacco in the second quarter on a 4th-and-1 situation at the Colts' 3-yard line.
"I think I remember [Hurst] getting beat one time by [Werner] clean for a sack, but most of it was pressure," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Mostly, they were bringing five, they were bringing six most of those times. Those are times you got five offensive linemen, and you got six guys to pick them up or they will bring them away from the side. They did a good job with that. You have to get the ball out and you have to make them pay for that with play, and we were just unable to do that."
The Ravens didn't provide assistance for Hurst, who held his own during his first NFL start last week in win over the Carolina Panthers. With left offensive tackle Eugene Monroe sidelined for at least a month after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, according to a source, this was a step back for Hurst.
"Yeah, James is a young player," Osemele said. "He's never played against that team before. So, it's kind of hard to really learn from that until you watch the film. We'll have to watch the film and see what we can do about that."
The first sack was allowed in the first quarter by Osemele when former Ravens defensive end Cory Redding busted up the middle to deck Flacco a loss of 12 yards to end one drive.
The lack of protection had a serious effect on the Ravens' passing game. Flacco completed just 22 of 38 passes for 235 yards, no touchdowns and one interception for a 65.1 quarterback rating.
The Ravens also converted just 1 of 11 third downs. That's the worst third-down conversion rate for a Colts opponent since a Nov. 28, 2010 game where the San Diego Chargers went 0 for 8 on third down.
"They brought a lot of guys," Ravens offensive tackle Rick Wagner said. "It's tough. We just got to do a better job of double-bumping and taking care of two guys sometimes. Sometimes, the numbers didn't add up."