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Ravens Flacco Has Career Day Against Rams

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ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 25: Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens throws on the run against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 25, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 25: Joe Flacco #5 of the Baltimore Ravens throws on the run against the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome on September 25, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
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Lost in the record-setting performance by Baltimore Ravens rookie WR Torrey Smith in yesterday's 37-7 victory over the St. Louis Rams, was QB Joe Flacco's incredible game. Smith set a record as the first rookie in NFL history with three touchdown catches in the first quarter of a game. His first catch went for 74 yards and his other two TD receptions were for 41 and 18 yards.

All three of those TD passes came from the strong and accurate arm of Joe Flacco. The fourth-year pro from Delaware found Smith along the sideline on the Ravens first drive, then came right back to him deep in the middle and finally a nice soft touch on the sideline of the end zone.

Flacco finished 27 for 48 for 389 yards and the three scoring passes to Smith. The 389 total passing yards was a career best for Flacco. His QB rating was an excellent 103.6, compared to Rams QB Sam Bradford, whose rating was 62.8 on a day when he was harassed, chased and hit all game long.

One of the things that jumped out was the amount of times that Flacco extended plays with his legs, scrambling and looking downfield, calmly waiting for his receivers to get open. He also ran the ball with confidence, gaining 24 yards on nine unscheduled rushing attempts.

The Ravens obviously wanted to attack the Rams secondary as their primary offensive goal, with an almost two-to-one ratio of passing to rushing. Baltimore threw the ball 48 times to only 26 rushing attempts. At least the Ravens spread the ball around in the ground game, with Flacco "getting" the bulk of the carries (9), Ray Rice carrying the ball for a nine yard per carry average on only nine attempts, and even rookie Anthony Allen getting some action lugging the rock (3 rushes for 8 yards).

However, it was the "Joe Flacco-to-Torrey Smith Show" as Smith finished with his first five catches in his NFL career, for a grand total of 152 yards and the three TD's. Smith is sure to be rewarded with the AFC Offensive Rookie of the Week honors wen they are announced this week. Anquan Boldin remains Flacco's favorite target, with seven receptions on 14 targeted passes. Joe spread the ball around like a solid veteran, with seven different receivers catching passes, and two others targeted although with no catches.

Even Smith's former teammate at the University of Maryland, LaQuan Williams, caught the first pass in his NFL career, and chipped in with some solid blocking from the WR position, most notably on a WR screen to Boldin that sprung him for a nice gain.

Flacco had three TD passes in the Ravens season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers and repeated that yesterday. He successfully rebounded from a poor performance at the Tennessee Titans last week, leading us to believe that the Flacco of weeks one and three are the one we expect to see the rest of the way in what is shaping to be the breakout season Ravens fans were hoping for going into the 2011 season.

This is only one game, but with the New York Jets coming to Baltimore for a prime time game next Sunday night, he will certainly have the chance to show the entire country what he showed us yesterday. Is he what people classify as an elite QB in the NFL? That's still debatable, although he does not have to be anything other than really good in order to be good enough to lead the Ravens to the Promised Land.