Harbaugh Explains Not Pulling Flacco

Joe Flacco got in some extra live work with a young receiving group late in the Rams game.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Monday, September 26th, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy, Week 3 at Rams

Head Coach John Harbaugh chose to keep starting quarterback Joe Flacco in the Ravens’ 37-7 dismantling of the St. Louis Rams until the final whistle.

The CBS broadcasters (Kevin Harlan and Solomon Wilcots) questioned why Flacco was on the field late in the fourth quarter, concerned the franchise quarterback could be injured when Baltimore had the game in its control.

Harbaugh believes the offense would benefit from the live reps Flacco got with a developing offensive line and young targets like running back Anthony Allen and receivers Tandon Doss and LaQuan Williams. That way, the promising players would have game experience with the starting quarterback if they were called upon in the future.

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“After thinking about it, I think we did the right thing,” Harbaugh said Monday. “I don’t know what you gain from a [backup] quarterback in a situation, handing it off three times and taking a knee twice and facing one third-and-[10]. To me, there is more to be gained by the guys that did go in – the two offensive linemen, the running back and the wide receiver, being with the [starting] quarterback that, in the event of injury, he’s most-likely to be playing with.”

With the Ravens enjoying a 30-7 lead midway through the fourth quarter, Flacco tested Williams with a deep pass down the right sideline that fell incomplete (and earned Williams an offensive pass-interference flag).

But Flacco was also sacked on two consecutive plays around the six-minute mark.

“I’d like to see the history on quarterbacks getting hurt at the end of games like that,” said Harbaugh. “I don’t think there is much. There is a concern, but all of our players are a concern.”

By the time the Ravens placed Allen, Doss, Williams and linemen Jah Reid and Bryan Mattison on the field for the final drive, they needed just one first down to begin taking victory knees.

The young Ravens received important game experience alongside Flacco. Allen ran the ball three times for 8 yards, Reid took one false-start penalty and Doss was the target of a Flacco bomb.

“Jah Reid jumped in one of our plays there,” said Harbaugh. “He flinched and we took a 5-yard penalty. I don’t know how many flinches Jah Reid’s got, but if he’s playing, maybe that’s one out of the way that he won’t have when it really counts, perhaps.

“Tandon Doss was on a route there and Joe Flacco was throwing it to him. So that’s one bit of game experience that those guys wouldn’t have with Joe for when it really counts. So that’s really the point.”

Harbaugh said he sees both sides of the conversation, and wouldn’t be opposed to putting rookie backup Tyrod Taylor in if the Ravens find themselves on the positive end of a blowout again.

“I think it’s something we might do in the future,” Harbaugh said Sunday after the game. “I do see the point. I think putting Tyrod in there is arguable.”

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