Flacco maintains cool in good times and bad
Joe Flacco reacts to positive and negative feedback the same way
he responds to a jolting hit in the pocket: He shakes it off,
stands tall and proceeds as if it never happened.
This has been a good week for Flacco, who led the Baltimore
Ravens on a beat-the-clock drive Sunday night in a 23-20 win over
the Pittsburgh Steelers. Showing all the poise of a 10-year
veteran, Flacco moved the offense 92 yards against the league’s
second-ranked defense, culminating the march with a 26-yard
touchdown pass to rookie Torrey Smith with eight seconds
Although he has been praised for his performance in Pittsburgh,
Flacco knows he’s only one interception away from being blasted by
fans and the media.
”It’s definitely true. But that’s why the quarterbacks are what
the quarterbacks are. They’re guys that can take criticism and move
on to the next week,” Flacco said Wednesday. ”They’re guys that
can take whatever people are saying good about them and not really
pay too much attention to it. It takes a lot to have to deal with
those different emotions every week. That’s why you have to stay
the course and not really pay too much attention to all that
Ravens coach John Harbaugh said, ”I’m sure Johnny Unitas got
some criticism when he was playing, certainly.”
Ever since he was named the starter before the first game of his
rookie season, Flacco has alternatingly been praised and smeared.
The University of Delaware product hasn’t won a Super Bowl, but he
took the Ravens to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons
and is on course to do it again.
Baltimore is tied with Cincinnati for the best record in the AFC
heading into Sunday’s game in Seattle (2-6).
”We’re a 6-2 football team and we’ve won a lot of games since
I’ve been here,” Flacco said.
One of his most notable victories came on Sunday night. With
first place on the line and a sweep of the hated Steelers hanging
in the balance, Flacco calmly took the Ravens the length of the
field in 13 remarkable plays.
”We all believe that Joe can do it. It was just a matter of
going out there and actually doing it,” running back Ray Rice
said. ”He was poised. I don’t think there was one worry or doubt
that we weren’t going to go down the field and score. I’m not
saying it was easy. But if you would have seen the huddle. … Joe
did a great job of just driving us down.”
The Ravens have long counted on their defense to win games, but
in this one, linebackers Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis were watching
from the sideline as the offense walked onto the field in just over
two minutes left and Baltimore needing a touchdown to win.
”Joe just kept putting it there. I was highly in awe of what
was happening,” Suggs said. ”Even when they had 92 yards to go,
Ray was saying, `We still got it.’ And I was just like, `If you say
we got it, we got it.’ And they went and did it.”
Lewis has formulated his own unwavering opinion of the
quarterback, and it’s quite unlike those of the quarterback’s
”I’m probably one of the biggest fans of Joe. I don’t care what
nobody says,” Lewis said. ”Anytime Joe is going through that
(criticism), I tell him, just go be Joe. That night, when he had an
opportunity to go out there, we could have ended that script a lot
of different ways. But it had to be done that way.
”From the first day the kid came in here to now in his fourth
year, there’s not a pass he can’t throw, there’s not a coverage he
can’t read. He’s only getting better with time.”
Rice and Flacco broke into the league together, and the Pro Bowl
running back has seen Flacco remain expressionless in the wake of
”It’s the quarterback position. You’re going to get hit with
the highs, the lows,” Rice said. ”When you lose, it’s your fault.
There’s a lot of stuff that goes on with that, and he’s handled it
very well. He’s our quarterback. I’m not afraid to say I look
forward to playing with Joe Flacco for a long time.”