Reporting Rob Long
Some would say that the Baltimore Ravens 35-7 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday should not be all about Joe Flacco. They would say that it’s a total team victory and that the team should share in the glory of the win. They would point out the fact that the defense forced seven turnovers on Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers.
All of that is true, but it was what Joe and the Ravens offense did that has the country asking whether or not the Steelers defense has gotten too old. That’s a valid question considering the Ravens got younger in skill positions and exploited the Steelers deep and over the middle for 60 minutes of football.
Throughout Flacco’s short career, he’s been unable to beat a Roethlisberger led team. That is in his rear view mirror now. Joe not only got the win, but unlike the play-off win the Ravens scored over the New England Patriots two years ago, Joe clearly outshined his counterpart. His 119 quarterback rating and three touchdown passes made the win as much as his as it was Ray Rice’s. Flacco was able to utilize the talent around him and make them look like weapons. That’s what was expected of him coming into the 2011 season.
Now what? Well, Joe Flacco doesn’t have to have a quarterback rating of 119 every week, but he does need to sustain the command of the offense, his offense, that we saw in week one against the rival Steelers. He can’t, and no one expects him to, fall off next week against a Tennessee Titans team that everyone expects the Ravens to dominate as well.
Joe Flacco, even if not the reason for wins, cannot be the reason for losses this year. In fact, he needs to be the difference in multiple wins as well. That’s what today’s championship contending teams have. They have franchise quarterbacks. That’s what Joe Flacco looked like, more so than Roethlisberger, on Sunday. He needs to outshine stellar quarterbacks that are on his schedule, more often than not.
No one expects the Baltimore Ravens to go undefeated. No one expects Joe Flacco to look flawless for the rest of the season. However, he and the Baltimore Ravens raised the bar considerably on Sunday. Not only Baltimore, but the rest of the National Football League is now watching to see what happens with this team and this quarterback.