Super Bowl XLVII MVP and Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was barely his old self in a 23-16 loss at home to the Cincinnati Bengals on Sept. 7.
Will the real Joe Flacco please stand up?
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This is what ESPN Baltimore Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley tries to figure out in his Sept. 7 blog. He argues that Flacco -- the Super Bowl XLVII MVP -- was a picture of inconsistency all game long in a 23-16 home loss to their AFC North rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals, on Sunday:
"Watching the Baltimore Ravens' Joe Flacco should come with an advisory: Prepare to experience the most frustrating quarterback in the NFL.
"The Ravens' season-opening 23-16 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals was four quarters of the best and worst of Flacco. He continually found ways to torment, enthrall and bewilder the sellout crowd of 70,925 at M&T Bank Stadium.
"Flacco can make throws only a few can think about attempting, such as throwing across his body and hitting wide receiver Steve Smith on a fourth-quarter touchdown pass that went 58 yards in the air. He also can make bone-headed mistakes you'd expect out of rookie quarterbacks -- not a Super Bowl Most Valuable Player -- such as the time he ran out the clock at the end of the first half to squash any field-goal attempt.
"His nickname should be changed from Joe Cool to Joe Cruel.
"The emotional roller coaster with Flacco went until the final minute of the game. After the Bengals took back the lead on a 77-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green, Flacco went 8-of-10 for 65 yards to move the Ravens to within 16 yards of tying the game. But in what summed up the day for Flacco and the Ravens, he was unable to throw a pass on the team's final two offensive plays and got sacked twice.
"'It was a bad day,' said Flacco, who was 35-of-62 passing for 345 yards. 'We got ourselves obviously in position to win the game, but we didn't necessarily play well enough to win it.'
"There's no question Flacco has all the physical tools you want in a quarterback. He proved that during the Ravens' Super Bowl run 19 months ago. Where he struggles at times is making the quick decisions and adjustments...
"...All of the blame for the Ravens' first home loss to the Bengals in five years shouldn't be placed on Flacco. His receivers dropped seven passes. Running back Bernard Pierce fumbled at the Ravens' 20-yard line.
"Flacco, though, remains the Ravens' barometer of success, and it's difficult for the team to overcome his repeated slow starts. He misfired 13 of his first 23 passes and threw for 78 yards in the first half."
In another team development, Flacco and his teammates spoke up in light of the Ray Rice controversy. Rice was seen striking his then-fiancee Janay Palmer unconscious in a New Jersey casino elevator in a video released by TMZ, per a Sept. 9 update from The Baltimore Sun's Jeff Zrebiec:
"Joe Flacco and Ray Rice arrived in the Ravens' organization in the same 2008 draft, and they've been two of the primary faces of the offense for the past six seasons.
"Flacco acknowledged that he saw the video of Rice striking his then-fiancee, Janay, in the elevator of the casino. the video led to Rice's release yesterday.
"'I don't think there's not really too much more you can say about it,' Flacco said. 'Obviously, it doesn't paint a good picture of who Ray is as a person. But I've played with Ray -- this would have been the seventh year -- and sometimes good people make bad decisions and put themselves in a bad light. Really, my heart goes out to him and his family, and I hope they get through this as best as they can.'"
The 29-year-old Flacco is in his seventh season and has thrown for 21,890 yards, 122 touchdowns and 79 interceptions on an 83.5 percent passer rating in 97 career regular-season games, per ESPN stats.
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