Timely return of deep pass attack for Flacco
November, 24, 2013
By Jamison Hensley | ESPN.com
Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY SportsJacoby Jones' 66-yard score marked the return of the big play in Baltimore.BALTIMORE -- While the buzz was about backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor's increased role in the offense, it was starting quarterback Joe Flacco who delivered the play of the game.
His 66-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones in the final seconds of the third quarter put away the New York Jets in a 19-3 victory and added a dimension to the offense that has been sorely lacking.
For 10 games, Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens awaited the return of their deep passing game. It came back on a windswept day at M&T Bank Stadium and came at the expense of one of the greatest players in franchise history: Ed Reed.
"It was probably the play of the game for us," coach John Harbaugh said. "The ball got up there and got caught in the wind. If you saw it, it was being pushed that way. I thought once it got up in the air and the wind got it, I didn't think Jacoby was going to be able to get it. He shifted into another gear and he went and got that ball -- just an amazing play. And then for him to reach out and catch it and keep his balance, just a tremendous, athletic play."
Flacco completed 2 of 3 passes deeper than 30 yards downfield for 126 yards and a touchdown against the Jets, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Entering this game, he was 4-of-17 with an interception on those throws this season.
After the completion to Jones -- which was Flacco's first touchdown on a pass more than 20 yards this season -- the quarterback leapt in the air for a celebratory bump with Taylor and screamed with excitement with guard Marshal Yanda.
Asked if the celebration was the result of waiting for a completion like that all season, Flacco said, "I don't think it was that kind of feeling. It was just like 'Yes, we got a touchdown.' It wasn't anything like 'Oh, I've been looking for that,' or 'We haven't done that in a while.' That wasn't why. That didn't creep in at all. It was really just excitement because it was a tight game, we hadn't put the ball in the end zone yet, and we were able to do it right there."
The Ravens' second longest pass play of the season was the result of Jones beating Reed, who played his second game in Baltimore after 11 seasons with the Ravens. With rookie cornerback Dee Milliner playing off the line, Jones had a free release and blew past Reed in the center of the field. Jones caught the ball at the Jets' 15-yard line and beat Reed to the end zone.
It was redemption for Jones, who didn't hold onto the ball in the end zone after taking a hit from Reed earlier in the game.
"To play against Ed and to be able to do that, that's one of the greatest safeties to play the game, and to get respect from him … It's a good feeling," Jones said.
Jets coach Rex Ryan said no one should point the finger at Reed.
"I'm not going to pin it on any individual, certainly not on one guy, certainly not Ed Reed," Ryan said. "He'd probably be third on that list, if you want all honesty."
Five years ago, Reed would've picked off a pass like that and ran it back for a touchdown. He just doesn't have the same recovery speed at 35 years old.
"We knew they were going to take a shot. They had the wind at their backs," Reed said. "So we knew they were going to throw deep. Jacoby made a play. He adjusted to the ball really well. I probably should have grabbed him and took the penalty, but he was the one that made the play."
Two of Flacco's passes accounted for nearly half of his 273 yards passing against New York. In addition to his touchdown toss to Jones, he hit Torrey Smith for a 66-yard completion in the third quarter.
The throw to Smith was Flacco's best of the game because it hit Smith in stride when he had a step on cornerback Antonio Cromartie. It was also different from his touchdown pass because Jones was Flacco's first read.
"[Smith] wasn't necessarily my first guy, but I thought I'd give him a quick peak before I got into my actual progression because he was pressed," said Flacco, who was 17-of-26 with one touchdown and one interception. "I thought I could get a good look to see if Torrey beat him [his defender] off the ball. I thought he beat him off the ball, so I just gave him a chance, and Torrey made a nice catch on that one. It worked out well."
If the Ravens can continue to have success throwing the ball deep, this offense will finally strike some fear in opposing defenses.