Shortly after his 262-yard, three touchdown performance in the Ravens’ 24-17 win over the Browns, Joe Flacco was asked if he felt a sense of relief or redemption after getting bashed by fans and the media following the worst performance of his career a week ago.
In typical Flacco fashion, the third-year quarterback flashed a wry smile.
“I don’t know. Obviously, you’re a lot happier this week than you were last week,” Flacco said.
Simple as that.
Seven days after throwing four interceptions in a road loss to the Bengals, Flacco flipped the script, tossing three scoring strikes to Anquan Boldin, and posting a 128.7 quarterback rating, the second-highest mark of his career.
It was the type of performance that those in the Ravens locker room said they expected from Flacco following the debacle in Cincinnati a week ago.
“It says he’s the kind of guy you want playing quarterback for you,” head coach John Harbaugh said. “I don’t think there’s a guy in the building that doubted that for one second. Not Joe, not Cam [Cameron, offensive coordinator], not one of our players, not me.
“That’s not to say you don’t do everything you can to be as good as you can be, because that’s what you do. But Joe’s done it before, and he’ll do it again. Every game he plays is not going to be perfect, but he played well today.”
The Cincinnati performance looked like it would carry over into today after Flacco’s first pass of the game, when he tried to throw the ball away, but had it hit Browns’ safety T.J. Ward’s hands. The ball fell incomplete, but Ward very easily could have had an interception as well as a touchdown, as no Ravens were in his path to the end zone.
“The guy did a great...bad job of getting here, I guess,” Flacco joked afterward.
One thing is clear 40 games into Flacco’s career - when he plays well, the Ravens win. When he doesn’t, they often lose.
The Ravens are 16-1 in regular season games when Flacco has a quarterback rating of at least 95, and are 9-0 when Flacco’s rating is at 109.5 or higher.
Last week was not one of those games. Flacco looked lost against the Bengals, misfired on a few passes, and didn’t make the big play when it was needed. Instead of using his new offensive weapons and posting big numbers, the Ravens’ offense was shot down.
“Hey, those games happen, man,” Flacco said after the game today. “There’s a lot of good players all around the league, and sometimes teams play really well, and sometimes teams don’t play really well. It happens. You’ve got to realize that as a player, and do everything you can to get better, and come out and have a better performance next week, and that’s what we did.”
“Like I told Joe, every day won’t be a good day,” linebacker Ray Lewis said. “But it’s a new day. And that’s what I walked up to him and told him before the game started. Erase last week. It’s over. The bottom line is we didn’t win that one, so let’s win this one. By any means necessary. And that’s what we came out and did today.”
So did it feel good for Flacco to shut up the critics, at least for a day?
“I don’t know. It doesn’t matter,” Flacco said. “I don’t care. It was a good performance, and I’m going to come back with another one next week.”