Joe Flacco shows off full arsenal in Ravens win


Joe Flacco can make every throw. In the Baltimore Ravens' aggressively revamped offense, he can sometimes make them all in one drive.

Flacco's 23-16 victory Thursday night over the Cleveland Browns on a rainy night in Baltimore wasn't flashy. It was the kind of surgical performance we've come to expect from the Ravens. They are 3-1 and atop the AFC North, but they look more dangerous this year because the offense can score at any moment.

The Ravens' six-play, 85-yard, second-quarter touchdown drive in under three minutes showed what kind of quarterback Joe Flacco has become.

It started on third-and-6. Flacco pulled off a gorgeous touch pass to Tandon Doss for 39 yards. Not many quarterbacks have the big arm that Flacco possesses. Even fewer can loft a ball like this.

On the very next snap, Flacco found Torrey Smith up the sideline for a 34-yard throw. Two plays in 73 yards. Going into Thursday's game, Flacco led the NFL in throws over 20 yards. Smith has as many catches over 25 yards this year (6) as 24 teams in the NFL.

This has become a big-play offense. Flacco read the zone coverage perfectly and fit the ball in between the cornerback and the safety. The velocity on the pass doesn't allow the safety to make a play.

That velocity showed up repeatedly in Flacco's 356-yard outing. (Perhaps too much. Flacco threw 46 times to only 18 runs for Ray Rice.)

Two plays later, Flacco finished off the drive with an 18-yard score to Smith. The Ravens went backward with a false start and then suffered a four-yard loss to set up the play. In previous years in Baltimore, a second-and-goal from the 18-yard-line meant a field goal was coming. Now it just means Flacco has more room to operate.

Flacco again used his arm strength to fit a ball into a tight window between three defenders. The Ravens have lacked a No. 1 receiver for so long. They have one now. The Ravens have also lacked a difference-making quarterback for their entire franchise history.

They've got one of those now, too.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.