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Tough for Ravens’ Flacco to win when pass-count reaches 49

October 10, 2018

FILE - In this Oct. 7, 2018, file photo, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, in Cleveland. In the pass-happy NFL, there seems to be no limit to the amount of throws a quarterback can make in pursuit of victory. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane, File)

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — In the pass-happy NFL, there seems to be no limit to the amount of throws it takes to pull out a victory.

For Joe Flacco, however, the ceiling appears to be 48.

Flacco threw 56 passes last Sunday in the Baltimore Ravens’ 12-9 overtime loss to Cleveland. Flacco put the ball in the air 55 times last month during a defeat at Cincinnati, although many of those passes came after the Ravens fell into a 28-7 hole.

Over the course of his 11-year career, Flacco is 3-15 when flinging at least 49 passes. The last time he won a game in that fashion was in 2013.

The Ravens (3-2) obviously didn’t take those numbers into account in Cleveland, when they threw 57 times compared to 25 runs in a tight game. Baltimore punted eight times, failed to score a touchdown had its run of 12 straight TDs in the end zone snapped by an interception near the goal line in the second quarter.

“Hey listen, you come up with a game plan throughout the course of the week and you just go out there and do it,” Flacco said Wednesday. “The optimum pass and run attempts are really whatever the (heck) gets you the win.”

Flacco never threw 50 passes in a game over the first three years of his career. The Ravens reached the playoffs in each of those seasons behind a stout defense and an efficient running game.

These days, however, passing seems to be the way to go.

“Around the league, especially this year for whatever reason, when you look at the stats a lot of quarterbacks tend to have a ton of passes,” Flacco said. “In this day and age, 40 pass attempts is just normal. Those days when you’re throwing the ball 25 to 30 times, they’re lovely because you’ve usually completed a good amount of them and you’re winning the football game.”

Flacco would like nothing more than to give his arm a rest this Sunday against Tennessee (3-2). That would be just fine with running back Alex Collins, who thus far has exceeded 12 carries in a game only once.

Collins broke off a 19-yard run against the Browns, but for the most part the Baltimore offense relied on the pass.

“That was more of a game-plan kind of deal,” Collins said. “They came out run-heavy and we were trying to get the play-action going.”

This week, Flacco will go up against former Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees, who should have a pretty good idea of Flacco’s strengths and weaknesses.

“I’m sure we think that we know probably more than we actually know, and they probably think they know more than they actually know,” Flacco said. “Everybody tends to think they have a leg up, but who knows?”

Baltimore scored at least 20 points in 12 straight games before coming up with a clunker against the Browns. Prior to that, the Ravens received positive reviews for the fashion in which they spiced up a mundane offense with innovative plays, most notably those involving elusive rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson.

When Jackson enters, Flacco often heads to the outside as a wide receiver. To this point, Flacco has been little more than a prop.

“I’m out there just standing, really trying to stay out of the way of everything,” he said. “My wife told me I need to look more interested out there, but I’m just trying to stay out of it, man. I’m not comfortable out there. I don’t need to get too creative.”

Asked if he expected to catch a pass one day, Flacco replied, “If it needs to be done, it needs to be done. But I sure hope I don’t have to do that.”

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