SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Joe Flacco's decision-making Sunday was just as baffling as a perennial playoff team falling to 1-5.
Flacco threw two of the most unsightly interceptions of his career against the NFL's second-worst defense, and the Baltimore Ravens paid for what he aptly described as "stupid mistakes." Both turnovers were converted into field goals, and those six points proved to be the difference in a 25-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
"It all starts with me not making those mistakes," Flacco said. "We can’t afford to do that right now. We have to go out there and play fundamental football, take care of the football, and when the plays present themselves, we’ve got to make them. We weren’t able to do that. I didn’t play smart, and we didn’t make the plays here and there to get us going.”
How smart Flacco plays is often the biggest barometer of the Ravens' success:
Baltimore is 46-9 (.836) when Flacco doesn't throw an interception.
The Ravens are 4-22, including playoffs, (.153) when Flacco is picked off multiple times.
Since 2013, Flacco has thrown 29 interceptions in losses (19 games) and 12 interceptions in wins (19 games).
It doesn't take a mathematical wizard such as backup guard John Urschel to see how the Ravens' fortunes are tied to Flacco's turnovers.
Asked how much Flacco's interceptions hurt the Ravens on Sunday, coach John Harbaugh said, "What do you want me to say? What’s the answer to that question? They hurt us a lot. OK, I mean, I can’t put a percentage on it. They hurt us a lot. Turnovers are bad.”
Flacco's first interception came with the Ravens trailing 13-3 in the second quarter. He tried to force a pass between two defenders just 3 yards down the field on a third-and-4 play.
“I saw [the defenders]," Flacco said. "I thought we could sneak the ball in for the first down, but obviously, I couldn’t.”
His second turnover was perhaps the worst throw of Flacco's eight-year NFL career. He threw a 50-yard pass up for grabs, and Kenneth Acker caught it with no Ravens player close to him.
"I was looking to hit the shot over the top," Flacco said. "I was hoping to buy time on the play, and it got to the point where I didn’t see anyone open, so I was just trying to throw it away. I didn’t see anyone down the field, but it ended up being a really dumb play.”
Flacco was picked off twice against a 49ers defense that ranked 30th against the pass and had three interceptions in the first five games.
Although Flacco likely wouldn't acknowledge this, his mistakes could be the result of pressing to make plays. His defense is giving up 27 points per game (seventh-most in the NFL), and he only has one receiver (Steve Smith) who consistently gets open.
Of the 10 quarterbacks who have thrown more than five interceptions this season, just two of them (Manning and Ryan Fitzpatrick) have winning records.
"It’s not good when you don’t win football games. It doesn’t feel good," Flacco said. "The thing is we’re out there and going through it, and we haven’t been good enough to win these games. It’s frustrating, but at the same time, we know we just need to get better. That’s all we can do is put our head down and continue to try and get better. Just go out there and win a football game. We just haven’t found a way to do that yet.”