I have been very critical of Joe Flacco’s performances against playoff teams – some say overly critical but I don’t make up the putrid numbers. The statistics are history and they speak for themselves.
Many will say that Flacco’s struggles are part of the growth process and that most quarterbacks’ numbers slump in the playoffs due to the level of competition. To that extent I fully concur. Peyton Manning’s ascension to the game’s best didn’t happen without failure. It’s how a player responds to failure and deals with adversity that fuels growth or lack thereof.
On Sunday against the Steelers Joe Flacco will surely face adversity. He’ll have to deal with a hostile environment; jet engine decibel levels; a sloppy field; and of course the menacing presence of Messrs. Harrison, Woodley and Polamalu.
Flacco is 0-3 in Pittsburgh. He’s had some shining moments but they’ve been outnumbered by the forgettable ones. But let’s hope Joe hasn’t forgotten.More than anyone else on the field Sunday, Flacco’s play will determine the game’s outcome. Getting his team out of the huddle quickly; pre-snap adjustments; fluctuating cadence; quick snaps to prevent the Steelers from disguising and feigning coverages.And of course protecting the football!
Flacco doesn’t have to wow us with stats against the Steelers. He just needs to be productive on first down and not lose the turnover battle. More so than any other team in the NFL this season, the Steelers prey on turnovers and in Pittsburgh Flacco has been philanthropic.In his three losses at Heinz Field Flacco is 42 of 86 for 499 yards with 3 TD’s and 4 interceptions (one a Polamalu pick 6 in the AFC Championship) for a QB rating of 59.2.
Adding insult to injury Flacco has fumbled 3 times, losing two.THAT has to change!Now I’m not one to buy into the Brian Billick/Rex Ryan philosophy that the quarterback must be the supreme protector of the football – the flawless administrator of a dummied down offense.
I think your quarterback has to be a playmaker.That said, in this game with Ben Roethlisberger on the sidelines, Flacco doesn’t have to be a playmaker but rather a caretaker to win. It may be a boring brand of football but effective nonetheless. Escaping from the Land of Yinzers with a "W" sets up the balance of the schedule tremendously well.
Every season has its unique set of ebbs and flows, peaks and valley. A win in Pittsburgh would be pivotal even this early in the season. And the burden of that victory rests on Flacco.
Two weeks ago he had his worst professional outing.
Last week he rebounded against the Browns.
During his career the Steelers have been perhaps Flacco’s biggest nemesis. The numbers don’t lie. Hopefully he’ll respond again.
They say that the night is at its darkest just before the dawn.
Let’s hope that Bengals’ game was Flacco’s darkest moment and that the dawn and brighter days lie in wait for Flacco and the Ravens on Sunday at Heinz Field.
What a pivotal moment that would be.
What a way to respond to adversity.
What a way to fuel Flacco’s growth and the success of the Baltimore Ravens in 2010.