Heading into their divisional round showdown with the Patriots in Foxboro this coming Saturday (4:35 p.m., NBC), the Ravens are confident that quarterback Joe Flacco can capture more January lightning in a bottle.
“Joe Flacco, what can you say?” Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said after Baltimore beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh, 30-17, this past Saturday night. “I think he had a perfect quarterback rating there in the third quarter. That’s playoff football. That’s Joe Flacco. He is the best quarterback in football.”
A year ago, no one was saying that.
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Flacco and the Ravens didn’t bother showing up in last year’s postseason as they missed the playoffs with an 8-8 record. The Ravens’ signal-caller was brutal down the stretch of the 2013 season and that late-season funk was underscored in a Week 16 game against the Patriots in which Flacco was picked off twice by Logan Ryan. Flacco did not have a touchdown pass in the 41-7 home loss to the Pats and finished the day with an ugly 56.9 quarterback rating. That type of performance was the norm for the seven-year veteran out of Delaware in 2013 as he had just one game all season in which he had a QB rating of over 100.
Flacco has had plenty of stinkers in 2014, including a game against the Texans on Dec. 21 in which he connected on just 21-of-50 passes for just 195 yards while throwing three interceptions. But the disaster in Houston is something of an outlier when it comes to Flacco’s play over the past two months. Since mid-November, Flacco has posted a QB rating above 100.0 in five of seven games. He was at his absolute best in the Wild Card win over the Steelers as he hit on a tidy 18-of-29 passes for 259 yards while throwing two touchdowns without a pick. He finished the game with a 114.0 rating.
For sure, it will be difficult for Flacco to match that performance against the Patriots. The New England secondary is riding high as in the month of December opposing starting quarterbacks had an average of just 84.4 as a QB rating.