OWINGS MILLS, Md. — After the Ravens jumped out to a 17-0 halftime lead in their win over Cleveland on Christmas Eve, many pointed to conservative play-calling as a primary reason why the Browns were able to climb back into the game.
Quarterback Joe Flacco agreed with that notion, wishing the Baltimore offense had kept its foot on the gas pedal instead of playing it safe in the second half. The Ravens were held to just one Shayne Graham field goal and 111 total yards in the third and fourth quarters.
The fourth-year signal caller referenced media criticism of games this season in which the Ravens abandoned the run game when faced with a deficit, such as their 22-17 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in which Flacco threw a career-high 52 times and running back Ray Rice was limited to five carries.
“We didn’t come out and play like we wanted to in the second half, obviously,” Flacco said. “I think there have been games this year when we’ve come out throwing the ball because we’ve been down a lot and you guys have all complained about it.
“Now, this week we kind of came out and we honestly played conservative. And when we didn’t, we missed a couple plays, whether it was a drop or a missed throw here [or there]. I wish you guys would help me out a little bit and start complaining a little bit that we play a little too conservative and put pressure on our coaches to not do that.”
Those comments are unlikely to sit well with offensive coordinator Cam Cameron, who has come under intense fire for the Ravens’ offensive inconsistencies over the last few seasons.
With the absence of No. 1 receiver Anquan Boldin against Cleveland, Flacco completed only 11 of 24 passes with only two going to Baltimore wide receivers. The quarterback pointed to the “little things” such as dropped passes and errant throws that contributed to the offensive struggles in the second half.
Of course, the Ravens earned the 20-14 win, but the lack of production in the second half left the door open for a special teams score, courtesy of punt returner Josh Cribbs, to put the Browns back in the game. The offense was efficient in the first half, but Flacco wants to see that type of performance over four quarters.
“We’re getting better and better each week,” Flacco said. “We have a lot of talent. It’s just a matter of going out there and executing plays and doing it for a full 60 minutes. I think if we do that, then we’ll be happy. We can’t let teams back in games.”