Suddenly, all that talk about being the best quarterback in the NFL. We’ve already established that the Baltimore Ravens, the only team in the NFL to make the last four playoffs, have a good shot at winning the Super Bowl. Joe Flacco and the offense being the main reason for it just wasn’t in the plans.
Beating the Cincinnati Bengals on the opening game, at home, the Ravens’ 7th consecutive win at a home opener, was something to be expected. But 44-13? With the no-huddle offense working perfectly? With Ray Rice, arguably the best running back in the NFL taking the backseat and letting his quarterback, always in that fine line between overrated and underrated? John Harbaugh, the head coach, wasn’t surprised.
We’ve always stood up here, and we’ve always, all our coaches, the organization, we know what we’ve got in this guy. Of course he is elite. He is a winner. He is one of the toughest quarterbacks I have ever been around. He’s the best quarterback I’ve ever been around.
Flacco had no problem with the aggressive Bengals defense, which was the main reason quarterback Andy Dalton made the playoffs last year. He did get sacked three times, and expect the Ravens to need a bit more time before sorting out all of their offensive line problems, but the no huddle and the speed in which things were done kept Cincy’s defense on the field, more tired and less effective as the minutes passed.
Flacco finished with 21-29, throwing for 299 yards and two touchdowns, sitting out the last 8 minutes, giving Tyrod Taylor a chance to make a few throws. Ray Rice got only 10 touches to run with and 13 in total, finishing with a 93 yards on scrimmage and two touchdowns on the ground. Dennis Pitta and Anquan Boldin caught the Flacco passes to the end zone, while Ed Rees returned an interception 34 yards for a touchdown, becoming the all-time leader for most interceptions return yards.
The defense was always going to be the rock in this equation, despite the loss of Terrell Suggs. The Ravens had no problem getting to Dalton, sacking the second year quarterback four times and rushed him with at least 5 guys on 16 of his 41 drops into the pocket. He completed only 40% of his passes in those situations, recording a 15.9 Total QBR, the second-lowest rating of his career.
Super Bowl favorites? Things changes quickly in the NFL, with the frailty of your players’ organs and the quality of the opponents. The Bengals made the playoffs last season despite not beating any quality teams, looking a bit out of its league Monday night inside a packed M&T Bank Stadium. Joe Flacco won’t be as perfect throughout the season, but if the impressive win over the Bengals is any indication, it won’t be him that the press point their fingers at when things start going south. If they ever will.