Flacco goes about his business as usual

Ravens quarterback shakes off bad performance against Chiefs

I heard a fan on sports talk radio wonder if Joe Flacco was having nightmares about getting hit by fearsome Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware when the Ravens meet Dallas Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.

That's a good one.

First of all, I can't imagine the laid-back Flacco having nightmares about anything, unless it's about not being able to find an open pizza joint. Or losing the remote when it's time for "Jersey Shore."

So even though Ware and fellow outside linebacker Anthony Spencer come in with seven sacks and 18 quarterback pressures in their first four games, Flacco hasn't seemed any different to the rest of the Ravens.

"No, Joe's Joe," said guard Marshal Yanda, laughing at the notion his quarterback could be rattled by anything, let alone bad dreams about pass rushers.

The other thing that didn't change this week was Flacco's preparation for the Cowboys, even after the offense struggled in last Sunday's 9-6 win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Practice wasn't any more intense, he said. He didn't get any more bleary-eyed from watching film than he normally does.

You don't change your routine just because you had a bad game.

"I think if that was the case, then it would be kind of a knock on how you went about your business that week — the week before," Flacco said. "I don't think it's really possible for us to change our routine.

"We are people that have to come in here — especially at the quarterback position — you have to come in and prepare the same every day no matter what happened last week, even if you lost the game, or even if you lost five straight games.

"You have to come in that next week just as you would if it were the first game of the season — with the same excitement, the same level of focus. ... We were fortunate to win the (Chiefs) game. We have to look at what we could have done better to limit some of those problems from happening and just move on. I think we do a good job of doing that."

Still, there's no question Flacco must play better against the Cowboys than he did against Kansas City.

He seemed out of sync from the beginning and never found a rhythm as the game went on. He didn't look off the coverage and stared down Anquan Boldin in the third quarter, resulting in a pick by the Chiefs' Brandon Flowers.

Flacco ended up completing just 13-of-27 passes for 187 yards and no touchdowns for a 55.6 quarterback rating. And the Ravens were saved — again — by Ray Rice, who carried the ball 17 times for 102 yards.

If anything was going to give Flacco nightmares, it was how he played.

But you couldn't put the offense's poor performance all on Flacco. That wouldn't be fair. Not the way everyone around him played.

The offensive line did a poor job protecting him. Tackles Michael Oher and Keleche Osemele struggled with Kansas City's speed rushers, especially Tamba Hali. Flacco was sacked four times. It's hard for a quarterback to have a big day when he's either flat on his back or picking grass out of his teeth.

The wall of noise at Arrowhead Stadium didn't help, limiting what the Ravens could do with their no-huddle offense.

Then there were the wide receivers, Boldin, Torrey Smith and Jacoby Jones, who seemed to have never gone up against press coverage and seemed astonishingly incapable of getting open.

The Ravens can talk about a win being a win, no matter how ugly it is. And there's truth to that, especially when you win on the road. But they have to move the ball better Sunday against the Cowboys. They have to do better than three Justin Tucker field goals if they want to sniff the Super Bowl.

All week long, we've heard the Ravens have ironed out their problems on offense. All week long, we've heard they'll look better against the Cowboys.

John Harbaugh talked about tightening the pass protection to keep Flacco out of the emergency room. And beating press coverage has been a focus of practice all week, with Joe Cool insisting the key to beating it is pretty simple.

". . . I think if we get out there and run crisp routes and get the ball out of my hands and protect, that's how you beat it," Flacco said. "If you get a little sloppy here and there and you aren't as precise with the ball, that's when you can let some of the tight underneath coverage get to you."

It better not get to the Ravens again this week.

Or else it might be their fans who have nightmares.

Kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Twitter.com/kevincowherdsun

Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

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