Hits on Flacco becoming a concern

John HarbaughMario WilliamsConnor BarwinRay RiceBaltimore RavensAntonio Smith

Joe Flacco’s 97-yard touchdown drive on the Ravens’ first possession Sunday was impressive on a number of levels. The fourth-year quarterback completed seven of eight passes for 82 yards, throwing to four different receivers in every direction. He finished off the near-nine minute drive with a sneak for the touchdown.

But what made that drive so much more impressive was the fact that Flacco was getting drilled by a Houston defense that plays in the same aggressive, physical style as the Ravens.

In his Monday news conference, coach John Harbaugh was concerned about the number of times the Texans got to Flacco.

“The thing that was a little bit disappointing was our pass protection,” Harbaugh said. “I think Joe made some great throws, especially in that first drive, and he got hit every single time. And that’s not good. I think it’s a testament to Joe and his toughness and all that. We’ve seen it. But we don’t want Joe getting hit like that.

“A couple times it was losing a one-on-one battle here or there. A couple times we mis-ID’d the protection because of some of the looks they gave us, maybe, but also things that weren’t that complicated. So I think … everybody would agree that we can do a better job that way. Now at the end of the game I thought we did a better job. We don’t need Joe getting hit like that.”

Even without its leading pass rusher, Mario Williams, Houston sacked Flacco twice and recorded seven quarterback hits, according to the game summary. Strong-side linebacker Connor Barwin hit Flacco three times and defensive end Antonio Smith twice.

“It was really physical,” Harbaugh said. “They got a whole front seven of first and second round picks, high first and second round picks. That’s a really talented front, even without Mario Williams in there. [They have] really, really good players that want to be real physical team and they are. You’ve seen it before, this team doesn’t give up. They play physical from the beginning of the game to the end of the game.”

Running back Ray Rice also took some shots from the Texans, but neither player appeared on the injury list afterward.

“I think they’re OK,” Harbaugh said. “I’m sure they’re sore. But there’s nothing injury-wise that should be an issue even for [practice on] Wednesday.”

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