Joe Flacco shows winning perseverance

MIAMI -- Of Joe Flacco's 16 career game-winning drives, the one in the Baltimore Ravens' 26-23 win over the Miami Dolphins isn't his most memorable. But, after Flacco gets to rest his aches and pains, he may consider this his most satisfying one.

During a game in which nothing seemed to go his way -- from warm-ups to the fourth quarter -- Flacco showed winning perseverance in taking all of those shots and coming back to deliver the key offensive play. His 14-yard pass to Torrey Smith set up Justin Tucker's 44-yard, go-ahead field goal with 1:42 left in the game.

This tested Flacco physically. He's getting hit so many times he should invest some of that $120.6 million contract into life insurance. This also tested Flacco mentally. After having an interception returned for a touchdown -- which wasn't his fault -- he had the Ravens back ahead about six minutes later.

"Joe doesn't ever get phased," coach John Harbaugh said. "It seems Joe never gets shaken. Joe is not the kind of guy that's going to get rattled. That's just who he is. That's part of his greatness. And that's why he is who he is as a player."

Flacco was undone by injuries. The Ravens were down to three healthy wide receivers because Jacoby Jones (knee) and Marlon Brown (hamstring) were inactive and Brandon Stokley (groin) was cut Saturday. To make matters worse, left guard Kelechi Osemele suffered back spasms and lasted only one play before backup center A.Q. Shipley took over.

Flacco didn't get any protection from his offensive line, getting hit a half-dozen times and was sacked twice. With a collapsing pocket, Flacco had to throw the ball before he wanted to do so and couldn't follow through on his passes.

On the final play of the first half, soon-to-be demoted left tackle Bryant McKinnie was so slow that Koa Misi went untouched off the edge in sacking Flacco. Then, in the fourth quarter, McKinnie's failure to block Dion Jordan led to Flacco getting hit from behind and an interception returned for a score. By that point, the Ravens had to be second-guessing not suiting up Eugene Monroe, who was acquired last week.

Speaking of that touchdown, Flacco didn't get help from offensive coordinator Jim Caldwell either. With the Ravens ahead by a touchdown in the fourth quarter, there was no reason for Flacco to be throwing from his goal line on third-and-22.

"We want that one back," Harbaugh said. "That was a mistake. We should have run the ball there. I think we'll all agree there. We should have punted it out of there the way our defense was playing. We put Joe in a tough spot there."

Flacco, though, simply shook off his eighth interception of the season.

"It was frustrating but you come off the sidelines, you get pissed for a couple of seconds and then you regroup because you're getting the ball right back," said Flacco, who was 19-of-32 for 269 yards. "Stuff like that happens. It was still a tie game with a lot of game left and we knew we had to go win it."

Rebounding has been a recurring storyline in Flacco's career. He improved to 4-0 the week after throwing multiple interceptions in a game (he was picked off a career-worst five times last Sunday), and he won this time with some dramatic flair. This was his first game-winning drive since leading the Ravens back in Denver in last season's AFC divisional playoff game.