Gene Sweeney Jr, Baltimore Sun
November 24, 2011
3. If you don't think Joe Flacco's played a great game on Thursday, it's probably because fantasy football has warped your perspective of what a great performance is.
If you didn't watch the game Thursday (maybe you ate too much turkey and slept through the entire thing) you might look at Flacco's stats and decide he played OK, but obviously didn't do anything particularly special. When a guy goes 15-of-23 for 161 yards and a touchdown, it doesn't exactly jump off the page. I looked it up in my Yahoo fantasy league. It was good for a grand total of 13 points.
But I thought Flacco was exceptional on Thursday. I think he threw one pass all night that I'd categorize as a bad throw. He was accurate, he was smart with the football, he didn't take a single sack, and he was clutch when he needed to be. Seven of his completions came on third down, and he knew he was going to have to make plays in those situations because the Ravens were determined to keep feeding Ray Rice the ball on first and second downs.
When you have that kind of game plan, your line being so efficient on third downs, you have to come through," Flacco said. "We had a lot of guys come through for us and just made some big plays in those situations.
His touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta -- on 3rd-and-goal from the 8 yard line -- was one of my favorite throws he's made all year because not only did he have to fit it through a small window, he had to throw the ball before Pitta came open and trust that he was going to get between the linebacker and the safety. (Remember when he used to avoid throwing over the middle like the plague?) That throw made it 13-6 and capped off a 16 play drive that chewed 7:34 off the clock.
Like the majority of football fans, I love fantasy football. I've been playing for more than a decade. But I do truly believe it's skewed our perspective a bit when we evaluate what passes for a good performance from a quarterback. You can't evaluate football stats the way people evaluate baseball stats. Leadership, patience and knowing when to take risks are really difficult, if not impossible, to quantify with football statistics. Obviously Flacco and Cameron still need to figure out a better red zone approach. I have no idea what either was thinking on that quarterback draw. It was a weird call, and Flacco ran it like he was a flamingo trying to tip-toe through a herd of wildebeests. But overall, I thought he was very good. Not only was he rocking a ridiculous but awesome Fu Manchu that gave the Ravens a fitting theme for the night -- Winning Ugly -- he even inspired Jameel McClain to give one of the most absurd, yet funny quotes of the year.
"Joe Flacco for President, and the offensive line is the vice president," McClain said when asked what he thought of the offense.
Matt Stafford, by the way, threw three interceptions Thursday but was good for 19 fantasy points.