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Harbaugh, Flacco unbeaten in openers

9/3/2013

The postseason success of Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and quarterback Joe Flacco is well known. What many forget is their flawless record at the start of seasons.

The Ravens are 5-0 in season openers with Harbaugh and Flacco, winning by an impressive 16.2 points per game. Baltimore has started its past two seasons by beating AFC North rivals Pittsburgh and Cincinnati by a combined score of 79-20. The Ravens' current mark in openers is second in the NFL to the Patriots' nine-game streak.

Harbaugh has the best record in openers among current coaches. San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh (2-0) and Tampa Bay's Greg Schiano (1-0) are the only other coaches who are undefeated in openers but neither have coached more than two seasons.

“I just don’t have that answer, because I haven’t thought about it," John Harbaugh said. "We just do what we do as hard as we can. Our guys work hard. But we’ve played well in those games, so it’s a testament to the way our players have played in those games probably more than anything else.”

One reason for the Ravens' success is they've opened at home in four of Harbaugh's five seasons in Baltimore. Another is Flacco's solid starts. In those five openers, Flacco has completed 59 percent of his throws for an average of 241.4 yards per game with seven touchdowns and two interceptions. His quarterback rating is 90.0.

Asked about his perfect record in season openers, Flacco said, "I attribute that to us being a good football team. It probably doesn’t mean too much in the grand scheme of things -- it just is what it is. Like I said, I think we have a good offseason [program], we have good training camp practices, we get a lot of reps in, and we work hard. I think guys show up Week 1 excited and chomping at the bit getting ready to go. I think we come out and play well because of it.”

The Ravens begin their Super Bowl title defense at the Denver Broncos, who are familiar with good starts, too. The Broncos' 33-19-1 mark in openers is an NFL-best .635.