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It's a team game, but Flacco needs to 'own' this loss

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Whenever we talk abut a team that has just won a game behind a great passing performance from their QB, we put him up on a pedestal and talk about his greatness. No mention of the other 10 guys on the field that blocked for him and caught the balls he threw. He had a great game and might give credit to his teammates but he's the one getting the interviews and headlines.

So then conversely, why do we try to over-protect the QB when he throws four interceptions and fails to impress even his most die-hard fans who had such high expectations of him going into this season? Many people, including national experts, had the Baltimore Ravens third year QB Joe Flacco leading this team to the Promised Land and having an All Pro season.

After yesterday's debacle, now some fans are talking about bringing in reserve QB Marc Bulger and benching Flacco for his horrible performance in the Ravens 15-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. This is the third time in a row the Bengals have demoralized the Ravens and made Flacco look more like a rookie than a solid veteran we thought he was becoming.

All four of his interceptions were head scratching ones, either softly tossed to no one in particular or staring down a receiver so long it was easy to stick a hand up and bat the ball up into the air for the pick. Last year, I counted four key interceptions that directly led to losses in close games the Ravens were in until the end. Even with those mistakes, as well as the ones yesterday, as badly as the team played, the Ravens were still in the game with a chance to win until the last minutes of the game.

The lack of progress from making these mistakes along with the inability to beat the tougher teams is beginning to wear on Ravens fans. Padding his stats against the weaker teams in the league has given fans the impression of progress from year one to year two, and now this year's loftly expectations. Take out the first two games of 2009 (Kansas City, Cleveland) as well as the Detroit and Chicago games later in the season and you have a very average QB in the rest of the games last year. So far this season, the Ravens have played two of the top defenses in the league and struggled offensively.

If they open it up with success next week at home versus the 0-2 Cleveland Browns, will all be forgotten and forgiven? If you play good against the bad teams and bad against the good teams, then what type of QB are you? That's the NFL definition of average. Is that what the Ravens or their fans want, expect or are willing to settle for? 

Following the Browns next Sunday are the Pittsburgh Steelers on the road. Despite the loss of Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers have found ways to win two tough games and there is every reason to believe they can hold their own at home against these Ravens in two weeks if both teams continue to play like they have so far in 2010. Losing to the Steelers without their star QB and with ours would infuriate fans and with game five at the New England Patriots, the Ravens could easily be looking at a 2-3 record after five games when many saw them being undefeated and on the road to the Super Bowl.

Watch how far the Ravens fall in everyone's Power Rankings this week, as they need to not only win this coming week as expected, but go into Pittsburgh and beat the Steelers behind a solid QB performance from Flacco in order to regain the respect not only from the experts but the team's fans as well.