Vanishing on road doesn't bode well for Flacco

Vanishing on road doesn't bode well for Flacco
November 5, 2012, 9:00 am
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After four road games, the verdict is in: Joe Flacco definitely isn't the same quarterback on the road.

That doesn't mean Flacco is solely at fault, but he had two weeks to prepare for the two-win Cleveland Browns and still turned in a personal dud. He's in a contract year, and ask anyone in the locker room and they'll swear that he's an "elite" quarterback.

He just hasn't performed like one lately.

Could it be a personnel problem? Maybe. Receiver Jacoby Jones was signed as a free agent to help give this offense an added dimension to stretch defenses but he has been a non-factor. He didn't have a catch in Sunday's 25-15 win at the Cleveland Browns.

That represented the second game this season that Jones failed to get a reception. He's never had more than three catches in any game.

The Ravens are 2-2 on the road -- they finished 4-4 there last season when they advanced to the AFC title game --  after Sunday's 25-15 win at the Cleveland Browns.

Flacco finished with 153 yards and one touchdown pass, a 19-yarder to Torrey Smith that capped a nine-play, 81-yard drive late in the fourth quarter to help his team regain the lead after trailing 15-14.

"I wish we would go out there and continue to play like we (did) in the first quarter, go up and down the field the whole game," said Flacco of the 14-0 lead the Ravens established in the first quarter behind the rushing of Ray Rice and Bernard Pierce.

Could it be play-calling?

According to Flacco, they became predictable and didn't change up enough, which is why Rice, who gained 58 yards in the first quarter, was held to nine yards on six carries in the second and third quarters.

Flacco completed 10 of his first 12 passes in the first half, but only went 5-for-12 in the second half.

With road games remaining at Pittsburgh, San Diego, Washington and Cincinnati, all of whom have proven to be better than the Browns, that won't be good enough.

Flacco completed just 52.4% of his passes in a 24-23 loss at the Philadelphia Eagles, 48.1% in a dreadful 9-6 win at the Kansas City Chiefs and 48.8% in a 43-13 loss at the Houston Texans.

Flacco hasn't had a 300-yard passing game since a 23-16 home win vs. the Browns on Sept. 27.

Since then, he's thrown for 187, 234, 147 and 153 in Sunday's game. The three sub-200 performances in that stretch were on the road.

For the season, Flacco's completion rate is less than 60%. That might be good enough to qualify for the playoffs from the AFC North, but it doesn't bode well for advancing deep.

"When you're 6-2, there's no complaining about it, " said Rice, who was bubbling with optimism. "Joe's our quarterback. He's always so calm under that kind of pressure. You didn't see him blink. He kept firing the ball in there."