Flacco not fazed at hostile Heinz Field

Flacco not fazed at hostile Heinz Field
October 17, 2013, 11:00 am
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Harbaugh: Pittsburgh, Ravens is 'the greatest rivalry' in NFL

Ravens

By virtually any measure, Joe Flacco has seemed a different quarterback at home and on the road.

He has a 35-8 record at M&T Bank Stadium and a 22-21 mark on the road.

Flacco's career passer rating at home (92.7) is 13 points better than on the road (79.0). In an equal number of regular-season games (43), Flacco has thrown 24 interceptions at home, 40 on the road.

But for all Flacco's history of trouble away from Baltimore, he has led the Ravens to three straight regular-season wins at Pittsburgh, including a pair of last-minute touchdown drives.

In those three wins, Flacco has gone 72 for 116 (62.1 pct.) for 720 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception. Overall, Flacco is 3-4 at Heinz Field, including two playoff losses.

Last year, the Ravens failed to score an offensive touchdown but escaped with a 13-10 win thanks to Jacoby Jones' 63-yard punt return and a pair of field goals by Justin Tucker.

To be sure, Flacco wasn't spectacular in that game, completing 20 of 32 passes for 164 yards.

But in the closing minutes of the 2011 game at Heinz Field, he was, engineering the best drive of his career to date.

The Ravens trailed 20-16 when they took over at their own 8-yard line with just over two minutes left and the Terrible Towel-waving Heinz Field fans in full throat.

“I just remember … us getting in the huddle and saying, ‘Here we go,’” tight end Ed Dickson recalled last year.  “O-Line was ready. Joe had the look in his eye, he was ready. And the skill guys were ready.”

Flacco hit Anquan Boldin for 21 yards on the second play, and the drive was on. Flacco and Boldin later converted on a fourth-and-1 and on a third-and-8, After moving the Ravens to the Steelers' 26-yard line in 12 plays, Flacco connected with Torrey Smith for the game-winning score with eight seconds left. It was the Steelers' only home loss that season.

Flacco also authored some heroics at Heinz Field a year earlier, hitting T.J. Houshmandzadeh with an 18-yard touchdown pass with 32 seconds left for a 17-14 Ravens win.

Much is being made this week about who will not be around for this latest installment of the NFL's best rivalry. No Ray Lewis. No James Harrison. No Ed Reed. No Hines Ward. But one player who is back is one who has proved he can go into the cauldron of Heinz Field, stare down that ferocious defense and walk out a winner.

"It’s definitely a cool trip to make," Flacco said on Wednesday. "It’s a big game, and that’s the biggest thing about it. They’re a good team. We’re a good team. That’s the way it’s been, and because of that, it makes for a big football game."