Facing Steelers, Flacco doesn’t feel he has anything to prove

According to a report from ESPN’s Chris Mortenson, Colts quarterbacks Peyton Manning had neck surgery this morning, and is facing at least a 2-3 month recovery.

Might this knock one of the conference’s top teams out of contention before a down has even been played this year? I’m sure inclined to think so.

The Ravens are scheduled to take on the Colts on Dec. 11, which is almost exactly three months from now. Manning could be able to return by then ... that is if he doesn’t go on injured reserve or have a setback - both very big “ifs”.

When people have talked about the keys to Ravens-Steelers matchups over the last few years, one of them always seems to be how Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco will perform.

In his three years in the NFL, Flacco is just 2-6 against Pittsburgh, including two tough losses in the playoffs. In those eight games, the Ravens’ quarterback has a 53.4 completion percentage, has thrown for 1,550 yards (193 yards per game), and tossed seven touchdowns to eight interceptions.

Some might take those numbers and results to mean that Flacco still has something to prove against the Steelers, or that he has to show he’s able to topple his team’s arch rival before becoming a so-called “elite” quarterback, whatever you feel that means.

Flacco doesn’t see things that way.

“We have to go out there and beat them as a team,” Flacco said. “I don’t ever want to go out into a game and feel like I have something to prove personally. I am going to go out there and give our team the best chance that we can to win. It’s our job as a team to go out there and play up to our abilities and win the game.”

One of the more frustrating losses to the Steelers in Flacco’s tenure as Ravens quarterback came just eight months ago, when the Ravens coughed up a 14-point halftime lead and ended up falling 31-24 in the divisional round of the playoffs.

In the second half of that game, Flacco completed just four of 12 passes for 43 yards, threw an interception, and lost a fumble. He was far from the only reason for the loss, but Flacco certainly wasn’t at his best, and those two giveaways turned into 10 Pittsburgh points.

How often does Flacco look back on that second half or think about where things went wrong?

“You look at it right now when you prepare for Pittsburgh, but other than thinking about it for a couple of months after you lost, we haven’t necessarily revisited it too much,” Flacco said. “It is what it is. We didn’t play very well in the third quarter. They scored some points off of our turnovers, and we weren’t quite capable of getting the game back. That’s what it is. That game really has no influence on this game. You have to look at it for what it is, see what they are doing scheme-wise and move on.”

Flacco said he doesn’t necessarily prepare for the Steelers any differently than he would for another opponent, but he knows exactly what he’s in for when the Ravens take on Pittsburgh - a physical, hard-nosed game in which he’ll see plenty of blitzes and complex coverages on the back end.

“I think our approach is pretty standard as it always is - just go out there and play our game,” Flacco said. “We want to try to convert on third downs as much as we can and keep ourselves out there on the field to wear this defense out. They do a good job of getting offenses off the field quickly and not having to play a lot of plays during the game.

“As long as we can keep these guys out there, I think that would be the biggest thing.”

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