Ravens-Steelers: Joe Flacco Impressive in Overtime Loss to Pittsburgh

Sean O'BrienCorrespondent ISeptember 30, 2008

Baltimore's 20-23 OT loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers should be considered an eye opener to every team left on the Ravens' schedule. Teams beware: Baltimore isn't as one dimensional as you thought.

Though the defense is still the heart of this team, the Ravens' offense looked much more impressive than expected against the "punishing" Steel Curtain. If you thought all this team could do is try and run the ball against you, you were wrong. 

Starting QB Joe Flacco, a rookie out of Delaware, really flexed this team's passing muscles Monday night. 

Flacco threw 31 passes, completing 16 of them, for 192 yards and his first career touchdown pass. He even showed off his arm strength in a bullet pass to Derrick Mason for 35 yards, setting up a Le'Ron McClain touchdown to tie up the game and bring it into overtime.

Flacco would end the night without throwing an interception and with a QB rating of 81.7.

Even though he was sacked five times by the Steel Curtain, Flacco stood strong in the pocket and didn't look nearly as uncertain as opposing QB Ben Roethlisberger

Point is, when Pittsburgh had thought they had shut down the running game and therefore the Ravens' offense, Flacco stepped up and kept them in the game. I'm not saying that he should be heralded as a savior, but for one night, he quieted the critics.

On the other end of the spectrum, he still had his rookie moments. Flacco lost a fumble, which inevitably led to a Pittsburgh touchdown, which put the Steelers back in the game and surrendered Baltimore's lead. 

Two things need to improve in Baltimore if they hope to continue seeing this much production out of the rookie. Their offensive line needs to keep him protected, and the coaches need to really emphasize ball protection.

I think Baltimore could end the season at .500 or higher, even with such a tough schedule, if these issues are dealt with.