Flacco: Benching was best for team
The Ravens insist they were playing to win on Sunday against the Bengals, but it became very clear, very quickly, that their primary mission was, in fact, to keep players healthy for the playoffs. The Bengals ultimately won, 23-17, in a game that quickly took on the feel of an exhibition game, with most starters on the sideline by the second quarter.
Quarterback Joe Flacco's day was done after just two series, giving backup Tyrod Taylor the most extensive action of his career. Taylor finished 15-for-25 passing for 149 yards and one interception, a deflected pass that was returned 14 yards for a touchdown.
Taylor also showed off his athleticism, running nine times for 65 yards and a touchdown, on a 1-yard rollout.
But Taylor, the second-year quarterback from Virginia Tech, also showed something else: He is nowhere near the quarterback Flacco is.
During the Ravens' three-game losing streak, with the offense sputtering, the talk shows lit up with fans begging for the Ravens to give Taylor a shot running the offense. Those fans should realize, after seeing the game in Cincinnati, that this is not the answer.
Don't misunderstand: Taylor is a serviceable backup who can come in and shake things up with an option pitch or a bootleg that he can turn into a big play. But he still struggles in the traditional passing game, as he is quick to bail on the pocket and try to make a play with his legs.
To Taylor's credit, the Ravens piled up 352 yards of offense at Cincinnati, playing largely without their No. 1 running back and with a patchwork offensive line.
If anything happened to Flacco, could Taylor run a traditional NFL-style offense successfully? Or would the Ravens throw out the playbook and rewrite it for Taylor?
Fortunately for the Ravens, we might never know. Flacco has been remarkably durable, not missing a start in five years, and barring an injury in practice this week, Flacco will take the field to start the playoff game next weekend.
And despite what the Flacco haters say, that definitely is the Ravens' best option.