Another defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers in crunch time proves Joe Flacco deserves the label "overrated." The Baltimore Ravens quarterback simply cannot be relied upon to deliver wins when it matters most.
The 2008 first-round overall pick has a creditable win-loss record. He has been to the playoffs every season of his career.
Yet Flacco doesn't inspire confidence that the Ravens can win a Super Bowl with him under center.
His worst failings were on display against the Steelers. Nobody can ever question his arm strength, but Flacco's accuracy still needs a lot of work.
That point was emphasized several times against the Pittsburgh defense. Flacco routinely went deep to test out the Steelers' aggressive coverage schemes. It was a good tactic, but the problem was he frequently overshot his receivers. Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin spent a lot of time adjusting their routes, attempting to find Flacco's wayward passes.
He has the arm to launch a stronger deep ball than most, but it's anybody's guess where it will end up.
Range aside, a lack of touch on his passes is perhaps Flacco's biggest failing. His short game should be far more precise after nearly five full seasons as a starter.
Flacco still tends to float passes aimed for the flats or underneath zones. When the Ravens lost 13-10 at home to the Steelers in 2010, it was Flacco who overthrow an easy toss into the flats on 4th-and-2.
These problems of basic mechanics are compounded by how well he executes in the pocket. He doesn't move his feet well to escape the rush (in fairness, Flacco is not the only immobile quarterback in the league), but the real problem is that he doesn't anticipate pressure very well. That's a recipe for disaster against the Steelers, and so it proved on James Harrison's vital second-half sack-fumble.
Whether the pressure is psychological or physical, Flacco doesn't adapt to make the decisive plays. Going 16 out of 34 for 188 yards, one interception and losing a fumble late in the game only proves that point.
Flacco supporters will point to the quality of the Steelers defense. In truth, this is a valid point. However, what makes a quarterback elite is the ability to consistently deliver against top-quality opposition.
The Steelers are the Ravens' biggest rivals. Yet aside from divisional animosity, the context of Sunday's game was particularly telling.
The Ravens were in a position to potentially wrap up the AFC North. They could have also ended Pittsburgh's ambitions for the postseason.
Yet rather than deliver on both counts, Flacco was out-performed by ageing third-stringer Charlie Batch.
The 23-20 defeat to the Steelers is not merely an isolated example of Flacco's struggles. It is a revealing depiction about his biggest issue.
Flacco is often solid, but when the Ravens really need him to decide a big game, he routinely falters.
That explains why he has yet to contribute to a championship in Baltimore despite a stellar supporting cast. Flacco has had the luxury of quality receivers, a perennially strong defense and the ability of Ray Rice.
His natural rival Ben Roethlisberger, has done enough to propel a similar supporting cast to two Super Bowls.
The Ravens, meanwhile, continue waiting for that second Lombardi trophy to be added to the one they captured in 2000. If Flacco can't prove himself in the clutch and shed the "overrated" label, they are in for a long wait.
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