Flacco finally breaks out on road

Flacco finally breaks out on road
November 26, 2012, 4:30 am
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Ray Rice made the play of the game, perhaps of the season, by converting a 4th-and-29 in the fourth quarter.

That play overshadowed a silver lining for the Ravens: Joe Flacco delivered on the road in a major way for the first time this season.

Flacco had his best game away from M&T Bank Stadium, bringing back the Ravens from 10 points down to win 16-13 in overtime at the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.

Flacco went 30-for-51 for 355 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.

“Not one guy said anything about, ‘You know what, good game fellas. It’s over.’ There was not one chirp about that,” Rice said of the mood on the sideline. “That showed a lot about our guys.

“We firmly believed that we were going to get that first down no matter what. … You can sense when … they (take) the life out of you. Not this team. This team, we got a will to win. It’s not pretty but we’re sitting at 9-2.”

Flacco hadn’t thrown for more than 232 yards in five other road games and had more interceptions (4) than touchdowns (3) away from M&T Bank Stadium entering the game. He was averaging just 176.6 yards passing per game.

It looked like more of the same for the Ravens as Flacco struggled against the Chargers’ No. 8-ranked defense, throwing for just 59 yards in the first half.

Flacco had failed to engineer a touchdown drive in last week’s 13-10 win at the Pittsburgh Steelers. He couldn’t score one in the first three quarters in San Diego.

Then a 54-yard catch-and-run by Torrey Smith set up the Ravens’ first points on a 43-yard field goal by Justin Tucker. And in the fourth quarter Flacco found Dennis Pitta from 4 yards out to trim the deficit to 13-10 with 4:23 left in regulation.

“It was a great play call and I was able to get 1-on-1 coverage over the middle  and … Joe threw the perfect ball. I could get it and the defender couldn’t,” said Pitta, who had 6 catches for 42 yards a week after going out of a game early with a concussion. “That touchdown was important to get us going and back in that game.”

The 25th-ranked Ravens defense was able to force the Chargers off the field in three plays on their next possession so Flacco could work his magic with 3:09 left.

He led the Ravens on a 11-play, 40-yard drive to end the fourth quarter, including Rice’s game-changing first down catch and run that set up Tucker’s 38-yard kick to tie the score at 13 and force overtime.

Rice finished with 97 yards rushing on 22 carries. He had 8 catches for 67.

The defense contained Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers as he was unable to get his team a score in the extra period. He drove them to midfield on an eight-play drive and then the Ravens’ defense forced a three-and-out series.

That’s when Flacco put together another 11-play drive, finding Smith 31 yards down field to San Diego’s 16, to set up Tucker’s game-winner from 38 yards with just more than one minute left in overtime.

The chemistry between Flacco and Smith is key to the offense's success. When the duo connects, it gets contagious. Smith finished with 7 catches for a game-high 144 yards.