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The Early Lead
Posted at 11:52 AM ET, 11/07/2011

Joe Flacco delivers for Ravens; next step, consistency


Flacco’s moment. (Don Wright / AP)
Joe Flacco, facing the Pittsburgh Steelers in Pittsburgh? On “Sunday Night Football?”

It may have been hard to fathom last week, but the quarterback getting the headlines after the AFC North game wasn’t Ben Roethlisberger.

It was Flacco, who has often been irritatingly inconsistent as he tries to develop into an elite quarterback.

He raised his game, lifted the Baltimore Ravens to a sweep of their series with the Steelers with a 23-20 victory and his second consecutive 300-yard passing game.

“He’s won games before but not like this though,” running back Ray Rice said (via Yahoo’s Les Carpenter). “I know he’s been through his ups and downs, but since the second half [of the Oct 30] Arizona game and [Sunday night] he’s become like a top-five quarterback, he’s playing like he’s at an elite level. I think he took that next step [Sunday night].”

Flacco, who completed 28 of 47 passes for 300 yards, took the Ravens 92 yards down the field in just over two minutes. With eight seconds left, Flacco hit wide receiver Torrey Smith, who had dropped a couple of passes, with a 26-yard scoring pass that secured the victory.

“Well, I started jogging down the field and I saw a couple of people celebrating, and I was just excited,” Flacco said, via Ravens Insider. “ ‘Okay, we’re going to get an opportunity to put the ball in here on the 1-yard line.’ And then I saw him come out of the back of the end zone with the ball in his hands, and I was like, ‘Wait a second, did he catch that?’ and I saw a couple of people going nuts and celebrating on the field, and I was like, ‘He must’ve caught the ball.’ ”

With that, the Ravens are 6-2 and tied with the Cincinnati Bengals for the AFC North lead. “It’s huge,” Terrell Suggs said of the win. “We swept them. But don’t be fooled. We’re going to have to see this team in January. We just positioned ourselves for them to have to come to [Baltimore].”

By  |  11:52 AM ET, 11/07/2011

 
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