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Joe Flacco makes big statement for Baltimore Ravens

The Baltimore Ravens never have a problem putting their defense on the field to start a game. On Monday night, Joe Flacco got first dibs.

"It was pretty much of a statement," coach John Harbaugh said of the Ravens' decision to receive after winning the toss. "Joe was clamoring for the ball."

Flacco then backed it up, engineering three consecutive scoring drives worth 17 points on the way to a statement 44-13 win over the disappointing Cincinnati Bengals. The fifth-year QB finished 21 of 29 for 299 yards, two touchdowns and a passer rating of 128.4.


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"Pay the man!" Harbaugh said of Flacco, who could get a lot more expensive for the Ravens if they don't extend his contract soon.

Make no mistake: If Flacco makes the leap this season, no team is better set up for February football than the Ravens. They're built to win in every other facet of the game. Flacco already was good enough to be a Super Bowl quarterback. If he emerges as an elite player at the position, look out.

Flacco was a polished product Monday night. He regularly checked out of plays at the line of scrimmage, diagnosing the Bengals' defense and attacking weak points.

His best moment of the night came on a 34-yard touchdown strike to Anquan Boldin early in the second quarter. Seeing the Bengals in a one-deep set, Flacco audibled at the line, looked off safety Reggie Nelson, then dropped one in the bucket to Boldin. You can't play the position much better than that.

Like Mark Sanchez in New York, it's always been more about the consistency than base talent with Flacco. If he can bottle this performance, the Ravens are in serious business.

Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus.

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