Quarterback Joe Flacco didn’t remain cool when pressed about the Ravens’ struggles on offense.
Baltimore is looking to rebound from one of the worst performances in franchise history in a 44-7 loss to the Jackson Jaguars on Sunday. The Ravens are ranked 30th in the NFL in total offense (791 yards) and last in passing (364 yards).
Flacco adamantly defended his teammates as they prepare to play archrival Pittsburgh on Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium. The winner of that game will have sole possession of first place in the AFC North at the quarter point of the season.
“The bottom line is we need to play well at all times,” Flacco said. “That includes early and late. It is the full 60 minutes, and we preach that all the time. The thing that you preach is the basics. You can’t be out there in football as an offense and be thinking about 10 different things as an offense. You have to be thinking about the most basic things that you can go play physical and fast, which at the end of the day, is what you have to do to play football and play it well.”
Flacco has completed 42 of 69 pass attempts for 366 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions. He is ranked 31st with a 65.2 passer rating, just ahead of Cleveland rookie DeShone Kizer (53.2).
The numbers, though, can be deceiving.
Flacco attempted just 17 passes in the opener against Cincinnati because the Ravens opened a big, early lead and stayed conservative. The following week against Cleveland, Flacco attempted 34 passes, but the Ravens also ran the ball 32 times.
The common denominator in those games was a victory.
However, the wheels fell off against Jacksonville.
Flacco had his worst game since being drafted in the first round out of Delaware. He completed eight of 18 pass attempts for a career-worst 28 yards with two interceptions. Flacco finished with a quarterback rating of 12.0.
However, he said that clunker of a game does not define the offense.
“That is how it always is, especially when you win two games,” Flacco said. “We did what we had to do. Then, all of a sudden, when you go back and you lose one game and you did not play well, now you just lump those first two games in with that game and act like we have not played well at all when it is not really the truth. We played terrible last game. But the first two weeks, we were standing up here saying how it was not statistically the best performances, but it was what we needed to do to win a football game, and that is what this is all about.
“I think we are getting ahead of ourselves when we all of a sudden say we haven’t played well for three weeks. We played terribly last week. There is no way around that, but the other two weeks, we did what we had to do to win football games. I do not think that is anything that we can hang our head over.”
Flacco and the rest of the offense can quiet the critics with a victory over the Steelers. If history is any indication, it won’t be easy for either team. Twelve of the past 18 matchups between have been decided by three points or fewer.
In 17 career games against Pittsburgh, Flacco is 9-8 with 20 touchdowns and nine interceptions. His quarterback rating is 84.7.
The Ravens lost a heartbreaker in their previous game against the Steelers, when Antonio Brown stretched the ball over the goal line for the game-winning score with just nine seconds remaining. The Steelers clinched the 2016 AFC North title with that victory.
Flacco said the team is not thinking about that play anymore. The focus has been entirely on the latest showdown.
“It should be an awesome atmosphere, and these guys have a good football team,” Flacco said. “It is going to be awesome. I love when guys haven’t experienced it before and they get to go out there and experience it. It is all good, it does not matter what happened. I don’t think that fuels it, just because there is already enough motivation for us to go out there and kick some butt.”