Flacco-Smith connection doesn't work on the road

Flacco-Smith connection doesn't work on the road
November 24, 2012, 3:30 pm

Torrey Smith is the primary target for quarterback Joe Flacco when he goes down the field, and if that connection doesn't happen the Ravens' offense overall will struggle.

The Ravens are 3-2 on the road going into Sunday's game at the San Diego Chargers. They average less than 17 points per game on the road compared with more than twice that total at M&T Bank Stadium.

Smith leads the Ravens with seven touchdowns, but only one of those has come during an away game. His best road performance was four catches for 46 yards and that one touchdown at the Cleveland Browns for a 25-15 victory in Week 9.

Smith had a season-low one catch for seven yards in last week's 13-10 win at the Pittsburgh Steelers as the offense failed to produce a touchdown against the NFL's No. 1 defense. The Ravens' only touchdown came on a  63-yard punt return by Jacoby Jones.

That could spell trouble for the Ravens because defense is the Chargers' strength. They are ranked eighth in the NFL.

Flacco is a different quarterback depending on the venue. He has thrown for 299 yards or more four times this season, but all have happened at home where he averages 322.4 yards per game

In five road games, Flacco averages 176.6 yards and has thrown more interceptions (4) than touchdowns (3).

When Flacco relies heavily on slot receiver Anquan Boldin, it usually means he’s having trouble finding Smith.

Boldin had eight catches for 79 yards in the Steelers game. In Cleveland, he had five for 57. In both games he led all receivers in receptions and yards.

Flacco targeted Boldin 12 times in Pittsburgh, but he has just one touchdown reception this season that came in Week 1.

So while Boldin is a good complement to Smith, without Smith leading the way to stretch the field the points will be difficult to come by.

The 25th-ranked Ravens defense, which is second overall in takeaways, will have to create easy chances by forcing turnovers to help Flacco.