Flacco Continues Struggles Against Bengals

September 19, 2010 | Ryan Chell

Joe Flacco

The Ravens defense did their part Sunday against the Bengals in their 15-10 loss to Cincinnati, but quarterback Joe Flacco continued his struggles against the Bengals, as he threw a career-high four interceptions.

“It’s a tough one for me. You don’t like going out there and turning the ball over and feeling responsible for why you guys didn’t win the game,” Flacco said. “We’ve got to come back like we do every week. We’re 1-1 and we have 14 games left.”

Flacco is 0-3 against Marvin Lewis and the Bengals in his last three starts.

Flacco completed 17-of-39 passes for 154 yards. He threw a third quarter touchdown pass to Derrick Mason-his only catch of the game-that put the Ravens up 7-6 after trailing at the half, but with three of his picks coming in the second half, it allowed the Bengals every opportunity to hold onto the momentum in the second half and win the game.

The win gives the Bengals their eighth-straight AFC North win.

Flacco was held to zero yards passing in the first quarter, missing on his first four passes, with the inability to step into his throws, forcing the ball to sail over receivers Anquan Boldin and Mason.

Flacco constantly was forced back or outside the pocket, as the Bengals pass-rush  flustered Flacco all game long.

His struggles continued into the second quarter, as Flacco’s third pass of the quarter after two short completions was intercepted by Adam “Pacman” Jones as he was covering Anquan Boldin on third down.

Cincinnati-with a short field-then took the ball 23 yards to make it 6-0, which stood up until the half.

The Ravens coaching staff sensed Flacco’s struggles at halftime and subsequently went to running back Ray Rice twice to start out the second half.

Mixed in with a healthy combination of Rice and play-action passes, Flacco found Mason for the Ravens’ lone touchdown score of the game to put the Ravens back up top 7-6 coming out of the second half.

In two games, the Ravens have a total of two touchdowns to their credit and 10 points in each game.

On the next drive, Leon Hall stepped in front of another pass intended for Boldin, which the Bengals took to the Baltimore 43 yard line. An offensive pass interference call on Chad Ocho Cinco lining up against Lardarius Webb ended the Bengals drive.

Flacco played his part on the Ravens’ drive starting with 9:35 in the fourth quarter, but the drive was really set up by Ray Rice’s 30 yard run that was stopped by Bengals defensive back Chris Crocker.

Billy Cundiff kicked a 38-yard field goal with 5:51 remaining in the game to make it 10-9 in favor of Baltimore.

After a 60-yard kickoff return by Bernard Scott, Mike Nugent connected on his fourth field goal of the game to make it 12-10 Cincinnati with just 4:34 remaining in the game.

With plenty of time left on the clock, Flacco appeared to be in good position to lead the Ravens offense down the field and score. But two plays in, Flacco’s pass intended for Ray Rice was tipped at the line and fell into the hands of linebacker Brandon Johnson. The Ravens defense held the Bengals yet again with the drive starting at the Baltimore 11 yard line, but Nugent hit his fifth and final field goal of the game.

With the Ravens needing a touchdown to win, the Bengals focused on the pass, and subsequently applied more pressure on Flacco. Flacco, twice hit on the Ravens final drive of the game, was trying to find Mason, but Chinedum Ndukwe picked off Flacco for the fourth time of the day and gave the game to the Bengals.

The four interceptions for Flacco were a career-high and his worst interception total since December 7th against Green Bay, where he turned the ball over three times in the air.

“You cannot win in this league with turnovers,” Coach John Harbaugh said. “That’s been proven time and time again. Minus-4 is not going to get it done.”

Flacco in his career is 2-3 in his career against the Bengals, losing his last three starts against Cincinnati. His first two victories came over the Bengals in his rookie year in 2008-one being his first NFL start on September 7th, 2008, but since then he has come up short against one of Baltimore’s AFC North opponents.

Here are Flacco’s numbers against Cincinnati in his last three starts:

10/11/09: (BAL L, 17-10): 22-31, 186yd, 1 TD, 2 INTs

11/08/09: (BAL L, 17-7): 18-32, 195yd, 0 TD, 2 INTs

09/19/10: (BAL L, 15-10): 17-39, 154, 1 TD, 4 INTs

If the Ravens are going to win this division and reach the playoffs for a third straight year( something the team has not done in franchise history), they are going to have to beat the Bengals and Flacco is going to have to play a bigger part in not only beating the Bengals, but not hurting the Ravens’ chances of winning.

Flacco in his short NFL career has also been a quarterback who has been not fundamental sound with his mechanics, as QB coach Jim Zorn and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron continued to point out to Flacco on the sidelines on Sunday.

Flacco also has shown that he will try and throw the ball up to a receiver in an attempt to force the receiver to make a play, and that was evident on Sunday.

Too bad he threw it to the Bengals four times.

“The one I would really want back is the second one I threw. I just threw it right in a crowd. The other ones I was trying to make  plays and they picked them off. It’s bad. They’re interceptions…you don’t feel good about them.”

Marshal Yanda is used to playing guard and now with no one on his right side, he has struggled in pass blocking and his replacement at right guard, Chris Chester, is more of a run-blocker than excelling in his pass-blocking.

What is surprising is how effective the Bengals were at getting pressure on Flacco with just four rushing the passer. The Ravens offensive line seemed confused at times with the Bengals’ stunts, and it still appears like the Ravens are missing tackle Jared Gaither, who is nursing a back injury.

“They’re a good team…,” Flacco said, “and they’ve shown that over the last couple years that they can play good defense.”

The good news is that the Cleveland Browns are coming into Baltimore next week at home. The Browns (0-2) fell to the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday 16-14, and the Ravens will be looking to catch up in the division race looking up at the Bengals (1-1, 1-0 AFC North) and the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0).

“You go and get ready for the Cleveland Browns, and that’s what we’ve got to do,” Flacco continued. “We just have to make sure we all bounce back, and I think everyone will.”

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