Against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, the Baltimore Ravens turned in their best regular season performance since 2012. And their franchise quarterback undoubtedly led the way.
Joe Flacco tossed four touchdowns, along with 381-yards passing, and completed 77 percent of his pass attempts. His lone interception was a slightly inaccurate pass, but Mike Wallace could have done better to locate the ball and avoid the turnover. Flacco was not sacked once and rarely pressured in this contest against the red hot Dolphins.
After twelve weeks of stumbling, coordinator Marty Mornhinweg finally had the offense clicking in Week 13. The Ravens were a respectable 5-for-11 on third down, a perfect 2-for-2 on fourth down and 4-for-4 in the red zone, including backup quarterback Ryan Mallett’s relief duty. Flacco’s pre-snap reads were much improved against Miami, allowing him to release the ball quickly to avoid sacks and holding penalties.
Most impressive was Flacco’s superb accuracy. He found his receivers in stride throughout, enabling Dennis Pitta, Breshad Perriman and Steve Smith to maximize their yards gained after the catch. Flacco spread the ball around with precision, ten different players caught at least one pass. The 38-6 victory was reminiscent of the Ravens 33-14 December home win over the Giants in 2012, a dominant showing that helped propel the team on their magical championship run.
A single game does not put Flacco back into the elite quarterback conversation, but it does lend hope that the Ravens offense has found their rhythm. The offense had been improving over the past several weeks, with the receivers and lineman playing noticeably better in November. It was only a matter of time until Flacco found his comfort zone with Mornhinweg’s playcalling and had his offense firing on all cylinders. Now that they have collectively proven they can earn an impressive result against a playoff caliber opponent, the league has been put on notice.
With seven wins, and four regular season games remaining, the Ravens are playing well enough to beat anyone in the NFL. Their run defense is second to none, and the Ravens special teams provide an advantage every week. The pass defense is playing with confidence and creating turnovers behind healthier corners and much improved safety play. The offense discovered a potent and efficient identity against the Dolphins that can be replicated against most defenses. All phases of the team are coming together at the perfect point of the season.
Beware of the 2016 Baltimore Ravens.