PITTSBURGH — Walking toward the team bus early Monday with a John Varvatos duffle bag he got for free of charge when he bought a bottle of cologne, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco looked like a guy headed home right after a workout at the local fitness center.
He wore blue nylon warmup pants and a white long-sleeved T-shirt, hardly the exact same look as the future Hall of Fame linebacker who trailed him by ten minutes in a beautiful black suit that belonged inside a fashion magazine.
Flacco is not flashy. He is not outspoken. He is not the face of a Ravens team defined by defensive players who assistance large talk with massive play. On Sunday, although, Baltimore’s quarterback spoke louder than any individual — louder than Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs and Ed Reed — with out really needing to say a word.
It will take a lot more time than two minutes and 16 seconds to distinguish whether or not Flacco’s epic final drive against the Steelers assists to define his overall place in this league or merely add to the inconsistencies of an up-and-down year. But if he’s going to earn his way back into whatever category he was placed during those initial three seasons as a pro — good, excellent or elite — this was 1 hell of a way to commence.
In two:16, Flacco drove 92 yards — regardless of two dropped passes — and finished off Pittsburgh’s almighty defense in a hostile environment.
He did it with a 26-yard touchdown pass during a ridiculous 23-20 win, easily the pinnacle of his odd year.
As I walked to the bus with Flacco, he talked about his concerns that rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith would be too tough on himself following two dropped passes, and how he didn’t want Smith to feel that pressure so early in his career.
“I was hoping he didn’t feel that bad about it,” Flacco stated. “What are you going to do, you know? He dropped passes, man. It’s not like we’re searching at him like, ‘What the hell?’ Some guys might be, but I’m not.”
This is Flacco. Calm and cool. Undaunted by the inconsistencies of other people just as he remains undaunted by his own — as lengthy as he has confidence in himself and those around him. And he does. Believe me, he does.
He helped prove Sunday that he isn’t going to let any doubts, whether or not from one play to the subsequent or one game to the next, derail his plans.
If you want to understand why Flacco isn’t worried about his own inconsistency this season, contemplate what he did with the game on the line four plays following Smith dropped a pass in the end zone that should have been caught.
He threw it deep once more. Once again at the rookie. Once again in the finish zone.
“We all know what form of pressure absolutely everyone puts on Joe,” Smith stated. “For me to drop those couple of balls, and mess up his rhythm, that was the most frustrating part for me: letting him down.”
But when Flacco tossed that second football — the one that stunned and silenced a Pittsburgh crowd in a way only a play like this could do — the Ravens’ rookie pulled in the pass and rewarded his quarterback for his resilience.
Nobody is denying the concerns that have plagued Flacco this year. He has thrown a choose in each of the last 4 games, while failing to finish with a passer rating above 78.five. He couldn’t close out a game against a struggling Jaguars team, unable to even get a 1st down until 5:24 was left in the third quarter.
Those are the factors why nobody should expect owner Steve Bisciotti and general manager Ozzie Newsome to show up to the team’s facility with a new contract extension for Flacco to sign Monday.
But this most recent performance against the Steelers deserves to resonate with the Ravens’ management as they continue this longstanding evaluation of a quarterback whose rookie contract runs through subsequent season.
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“We’ve had a couple of games this year exactly where we didn’t play well, but we’re 6-2, and we’re feeling pretty very good about it,” Flacco said. “We know what we’re capable of.”
It’s up to you to make a decision how you define these capabilities. Is Flacco capable of losing 12-7 to the Jaguars? Is he capable of driving 92 yards on the road against the then-division-top Steelers? Yes, he is capable of each of these items.
But for a team that’s nonetheless 6-two and in manage of the division (sorry, Cincinnati), Flacco’s ceiling and his continued resiliency should be adequate to give this locker space hope moving forward.
“One of two things had been going to take place,” said Suggs, asked his thoughts as he saw Flacco settle in under center for the begin of the final drive. “Either we’re the exact same team from last year. Or we’re going to show the world how we’ve grown up in a year.”
You know what occurred subsequent. Flacco took an additional step toward growing up.
As Flacco was leaving the field Sunday, a lingering Steelers fan relentlessly heckled the quarterback regardless of what he just witnessed moments before.
“Hey, Flacco,” he said. “Win a thing!”
No, this wasn’t a playoff game against the Steelers, which is what the fan was talking about. But it’s time for that fan — and every person else questioning Flacco — to recognize the reality of this 2011 season.
If Flacco can remain as calm and cool as he did under the pressure of Sunday’s fourth quarter, he’s going to get his opportunity. That is, of course, if the Steelers are in the playoffs with him.
Follow Jeff Darlington on Twitter @jeffdarlington
(About:) This write-up was distributed by X2 news wire and aggregation service, For far more news see: Turning point or just more inconsistency? Only Flacco knows.