<
>

Ravens stress communication heading into rare dome game

OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens rarely play in domes, which is why they've changed their routine heading into Monday night's game at the Superdome.

The Ravens are practicing inside their field house for the entire week, and they're cranking up the music to simulate the noise that 72,000 fans will soon make.

"Communication on offense is something that we’re emphasizing this week," coach John Harbaugh said. "You heard it in here. It was very loud. And it’s a big emphasis for our guys to communicate, make sure we’re on the same page and get assignments right. We don’t want to not move the ball because we’re not blocking the right guy or not carrying out the right route or whatever. That’s really important for us.”

The Ravens are 4-5 in games played in a dome or retractable roof stadium under coach John Harbaugh. Those nine games since 2008 rank as the eighth-fewest played indoors by a team.

The Ravens' last game in a dome or retractable roof stadium was Week 5 at Indianapolis, where the roof was closed for the second half. The Ravens were noticeably out of sync on offense that game, allowing six hits on quarterback Joe Flacco and turning the ball over three times. The result was one touchdown, and that didn't come until midway through the fourth quarter.

Flacco doesn't consider a game in a dome any more difficult than any other road game.

"Every time I go into a dome, I start throwing the football around and I’m like, ‘Man, it’s awesome in here! It feels good to spin this thing,'" Flacco said. "I tend not to pay too much attention to how the crowd is. There are a few downs throughout the course of a game where they can get really loud. Third downs here and there, if the game is close at the end, certain situations the crowd can get into it and you can let them become a factor if it’s that kind of game. But if you go out there and play consistent and get first downs, it usually tends to take care of itself.”

In nine games indoors, Flacco has barely completed half of his third-down passes (51.4 percent). He also has thrown as many interceptions (four) as touchdowns on third downs when inside.

Converting in those situations is going to be key for the Ravens on Monday night, when they play the third-worst third-down defense in the NFL in the Saints.