Joe Flacco's career game goes according to script

TAMPA, Fla. -- Joe Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens' passing game ambushed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers so quickly that even the players didn't realize they made football history.

In the Ravens' 48-17 victory, Flacco became the fastest to throw five touchdowns since the NFL-AFL merger, reaching that mark in the first 16 minutes, 3 seconds. It was a blur for many of the Ravens players, who acknowledged looking up at the scoreboard in disbelief when seeing it was still early in the second quarter.

But there were two people on the Ravens' sideline who had a hunch about how this game would unfold long before Sunday: coach John Harbaugh and offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak.

"Gary told me earlier in the week, ‘We need to run the ball and we can. But we’re really going to be able to throw the ball well in this game,'" Harbaugh said. "We felt really strongly that we were going to be able to do that."

After a game in which the Ravens were criticized heavily for not running the ball, the Ravens did have more balance except when it came to the red zone. When the Ravens got close to the end zone, they wanted to throw the ball against the NFL's 30th-ranked pass defense, and everything went according to plan.

Flacco's four touchdown passes in the first quarter all went to the primary receiver. With no one pressing Torrey Smith at the line of scrimmage, Flacco waited for the speedy wide receiver to beat cornerback Brandon Dixon and hit Smith for easy tosses of 15 and 9 yards.

His third touchdown throw came from film study, which let the Ravens know they could get a receiver over top of middle linebacker Danny Lansanah. So, after snapping the ball quickly, Flacco simply had to toss the ball 17 yards to a wide-open Kamar Aiken in the end zone.

"It doesn’t get any easier than that," Flacco said.

After Flacco finished the first half with a 19-yard pass to rookie Michael Campanaro, the only improvisation needed was on the fifth score. Flacco wanted initially to go to wide receiver Steve Smith on a double move, but cornerback Alterraun Verner was in good position. At that point, Flacco considered it a broken play and tried to decide where to go with the ball.

There was just one problem ... no one was open.

"So, I just said, let me throw one up and let’s see what happens," Flacco said. "I guess today was the kind of day where it ended up in the right guy’s hands for a touchdown."

That 56-yard touchdown to Steve Smith was the perfect sign of the Ravens' good fortune, but it shouldn't overshadow the challenges they've had to overcome.

The Ravens put on an offensive clinic even though the starters on the left side of the offensive line were rookie backups, tackle James Hurst and guard John Urschel. They also put up their most points since November 2012 despite being in their sixth game in a new offensive system.

"The last thing in our head is that we haven’t been in this offense too long," said Flacco, who became the first Ravens quarterback to throw for 300 yards and five touchdowns without an interception.

That's the nonchalant attitude Flacco has always had. Even on the day when he was at his hottest, he never altered from his Joe Cool persona.

When tight end Owen Daniels pointed out to Flacco that he had just thrown his third touchdown, Flacco smiled and just said, "Dude, I know." When Harbaugh announced in the locker room that Flacco had made history, the veteran essentially shrugged his shoulders.

As someone who can't remember if he ever has thrown five touchdowns in any game in his life, Flacco isn't saving any of the footballs.

"I don't care who gets the ball," said Flacco, who was 21-of-29 for 306 yards. "I don't really care too much about that stuff. It's a football, man, who cares?"

From Flacco's temperament to the offensive game plan, nothing veered from the script.