Flacco shows off multiple improvements

U.S. Presswire/Evan Habeeb

Joe Flacco was precise in the Ravens' win over the Bengals on Monday night.

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco came up one yard shy of making another mark in the team’s record books, but it was quite the impressive opening game against the Cincinnati Bengals for him and his team nonetheless.

Flacco entered tied with Vinny Testaverde for the most 300-yard passing games in Ravens franchise history, with eight. He still has eight after a 299-yard effort.

But boy did he dominate against Cincinnati's defense, leading the Ravens to their most points in a season opener, and their-third-most points in a game in team history.

The 44 points allowed by the Bengals was the second-most in team history, trailing only the 45 they allowed to the Denver Broncos on the way to a 3-13 finish in 1991.

How good was Flacco?

There were three areas in this game in which Flacco excelled, particularly compared to how he fared in 2011.

Most Wins by Starting QB
Since 2008

He was 7-for-10 for 194 yards and a touchdown on throws that traveled at least 15 yards downfield. That’s a contrast to last season, in which Flacco completed only 34 percent of throws of that length.

He was 6-for-9 for 87 yards and two touchdowns when the Bengals sent at least five pass rushers. Flacco completed 50 percent of his passes against the blitz last season, averaging just more than six yards per attempt.

He was 9-for-13 for 159 yards on play-action passes. Flacco’s average yards per pass attempt on play-action was nearly double his 6.5 yards per attempt last season.

Flacco has 45 regular-season wins since the start of the 2008 season. That’s tied with Drew Brees for the most among any NFL quarterback.

Dalton just couldn’t keep up

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton was sacked a career-high four times in the loss. He couldn’t match Flacco’s excellence against the blitz. Dalton went just 6-for-15 for 69 yards with one interception when the Ravens sent at least five pass rushers.

Flacco’s supporting cast

Ravens running back Ray Rice has made scoring against the Bengals a regular occurrence. This was his eighth career multi-touchdown game, his third against the Bengals. He has now scored a touchdown against the Bengals in four straight games.

Rice was able to bowl his way through the middle of the Bengals' defense, netting 61 of his 68 yards and two touchdowns on nine rushes that were between the Ravens' tackles.

Reed the record breaker

With his interception return for a touchdown, Ed Reed passed Rod Woodson for the NFL record for most interception return yards with 1,497. Woodson previously held the mark of 1,483.

Stats of the Game

Most Consecutive Wins
Home Openers (Active Streaks)

The Ravens have won seven straight home openers, the third-longest active streak. They’ve also won 16 straight games when leading at halftime, the second-longest streak, trailing only the 19 straight wins by the New Orleans Saints.

The Ravens were also the fifth team this season to score at least 40 points in a season-opening game.

The Elias Sports Bureau tells us that it’s the first time in NFL history that at least five teams scored 40 points or more in season openers.