Unlike the usual Tale of the Tape breakdowns on Russell Street Report, this week’s offensive edition will be focused on one player.
Typically some key plays that decided the game are dissected, but quite frankly, the Baltimore Ravens barely had enough notable offensive plays on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills to even make an article.
So, we turn to one man, Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco.
Flacco turned in one of the worst performances of his career in the 23-20 loss, and his five interceptions were a career high, so Sunday’s game was arguably the worst 60 minutes of football of his NFL tenure.
Let’s take a look at his five interceptions and what went wrong.
Interception No. 1
Facing a 3rd and 7, Flacco targets wide receiver Tandon Doss, who is lined up in the slot. Doss runs an out route, and while Doss beats his man, Buffalo cornerback Aaron Williams jumped the pass perfectly.
Williams broke off his man as soon as Flacco threw the ball and easily came up with the interception.
The only explanation for this turnover is that Flacco simply didn’t see Williams. Flacco didn’t appear to give away where he was throwing to, and it was an instinctual play on the part of Williams.
Those types of plays happen, but they can’t become a trend for the Ravens’ quarterback.
Interception No. 2
This interception isn’t worth spending much time on, as it was in no way Flacco’s fault.
On a 1st and long, Flacco found tight end Ed Dickson open in the middle of the field.
He puts the ball away from the defender and hits Dickson directly in the hands, but Dickson lets the ball ricochet off them for an easy Buffalo interception.
Is anyone surprised Dickson dropped it?
Interception No. 3
On a 3rd and 11 in the red zone, Flacco decided to take the risk of going for a touchdown instead of settling for a field goal. Sometimes the risk is worth it, but in this case it wasn’t. Remember, the Ravens ultimately lost by only a field goal, so those three points could have made a difference.
The Ravens are lined up in a five wide set.
The Bills elected to rush only three, but since Baltimore’s offensive line can’t block (two free runners out of three pass rushers, really?), Flacco was forced to get rid of the ball sooner than desired, which led to the ill-advised decision to throw to Torrey Smith in the back corner of the end zone.
Williams is blocking off Smith, and while Torrey failed to make a play on the ball, it wouldn’t have changed the fact that Flacco simply shouldn’t have decided to take that risk.
Interception No. 4
This is the interception that really made Ravens fans feel uneasy.
On first down, wide receivers Marlon Brown and Tandon Doss – both lined up out wide – run crossing routes.
Circled above is Bills rookie linebacker Kiko Alonso, who could see the crossing route coming from the beginning of the play.
Brown gets open behind Alonso, and an accurate throw would have led to an easy completion. But Alonso read the play, reacted, and was in the perfect place for as easy of interception as he may ever have in his career.
This play is another case of Flacco simply not seeing a defender who is in place to make the play. One time (in the first quarter) can be dismissed as a mistake, but when it happens twice in one game, concern is justified.
Some may suggest that Brown made a mistake in his route, but Joe still needs to pick up the linebacker. Flacco had to notice Alonso regardless of where he expected Brown to be, but he didn’t see him. Even if there was some confusion between QB and WR, I still lay the blame more on Flacco on this one than Brown.
Interception No. 5
This interception thrown by Flacco on Baltimore’s last offensive drive ended any hope of a comeback attempt.
On 3rd down, Flacco has an open Dallas Clark in the middle of the field. However, with the tight space, Flacco must use his arm strength to squeeze the throw in.
Flacco does the exact opposite, and the Bills safety makes a jump on the route that forces a deflection.
Buffalo intercepted the pass to seal the win, with a certain linebacker Flacco was familiar with on Sunday.
Alonso came up with another right place, right time pick to hand Flacco his fifth and final interception of the game.