As in the monkey on the collective backs of Joe Flacco, Ray Rice and John Harbaugh. The Ravens had never beaten the Steelers with Ben under center in three seasons with this trio. That has now changed.
For Rice and Harbaugh, as the close scores would attest, they have both performed well in the games against the Steelers. But as anyone will tell you, the quarterback is the most important position on the field and getting that monkey off Flacco’s back was much more important.
Statistically, this may not have been Flacco’s best game, partly due to the fact that the ball was taken out of his hands in the fourth quarter. It became more about protecting the lead and not turning the ball over. He could have easily had 300 plus yards.
It was by far the biggest win of his young career. All the Flacco detractors, including some of the Steelers players, all have to shut up now. Yes, I understand that it’s just one victory, but when a team has gone 6-2 against you, with two of those victories coming in the playoffs, it removes the monkey.
We don’t need to go 6-2 against them in the next eight games. We needed to beat them once to know that we could do it. Now we have.
Maybe it was the play calling, maybe it was the protection he received from his offensive line, but it sure seemed like Flacco took a big step forward in this game.
I’ve never been down on Flacco. He is, without a doubt, the best quarterback the Ravens have ever had. In his first three seasons, he has done nothing but win. The one knock I’ve had on him is that he would lock onto a target, usually Derrick Mason, and then not be able to make a play if he wasn’t open.
I saw Flacco read the field much better yesterday. He went through the progressions and didn’t make poor decisions. The one sack allowed was a smart one, on his part. In the past he would have tried to make something happen on that play. Instead he realized losing a few yards was better than turning the ball over.
Again, it’s been one game, but if he continues to progress and the offensive line continues to give him time to make those reads, there is no reason that he can’t become a top tier quarterback in the NFL.
Yes, we need to beat the Steelers in the playoffs before all the detractors will completely shut up but this was a major step in the right direction.
Thanks to the Pixies for the title of this blog.