Examining Flacco’s statistical playoff improvement

On Saturday, I broke down Joe Flacco’s stats through his first five postseason games, and made the claim that it was time for the third-year quarterback to step up and deliver a big playoff performance now that he had the experience and the health.

He did just that yesterday against the Chiefs.

Here’s Flacco’s stat line from yesterday: 25-for-34, 265 yards, two touchdowns, no interceptions.

Compare that to his previous five playoff games, listed below.

1/4/09 vs. Miami: 9-for-23, 135 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT
1/10/09 vs. Tennessee: 11-for-22, 161 yards 1 TD, 0 INT
1/18/09 vs. Pittsburgh: 13-for-30, 141 yards 0 TD, 3 INTs
1/10/10 vs. New England: 4-for-10, 34 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT
1/16/10 vs. Indianapolis: 20-for-35, 189 yards, 0 TD, 2 INTs

Yeah, I’d say there’s a slight improvement there from .

Flacco passed the numbers test, but he passed the sight test as well. The three-year veteran just looked like a more confident, capable quarterback yesterday than in those previous five postseason starts.

Despite the mediocre pass protection through much of the game, Flacco was able to navigate the Ravens down the field by hitting his intermediate routes, checking the ball down to Ray Rice and his underneath receivers and even picking up yardage with his legs.

He was poised with defenders in his face, absorbed a couple big hits, and while he did lose one fumble on a Tamba Hali sack (man, is that guy a beast or what?), did a good job taking care of the football the rest of the game.

Flacco didn’t take deep shots down the field, but he didn’t have to. The way that the Chiefs were leaving the middle of the field open, Flacco and the Ravens could consistently attack with crossing routes and let Todd Heap do his thing.

He wasn’t facing the Steelers, Jets or another top NFL defense, but the Chiefs are no slouches on that side of the ball. And Flacco picked them apart, drive after drive.

Boy, was it nice to see.

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