Ravens' Flacco knows all about about beating Pats' Brady
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- There aren't many quarterbacks who can look at their head-to-head matchups with Tom Brady and smile.
Joe Flacco can do it.
While Flacco and the Baltimore Ravens have a 3-5 record in games against Brady and the New England Patriots, Flacco's personal numbers have been better than the NFL's all-time winningest quarterback as they prepare to face each other again Monday night.
"We've played him quite a bit. It seems like he always plays well against us, so I have a lot of respect for him," Patriots coach Bill Belichick told the Baltimore media on a conference call Wednedsay. "He's a good football player and he's been pretty good. Don't forget, he took them to the Super Bowl championship."
Flacco, who threw four touchdown passes in last week's 38-6 blowout of the previously hot Miami Dolphins, has thrown 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions while amassing a 91.3 passer rating against Brady-led teams. Brady has 10 touchdowns and 10 picks and has lost two fumbles in those games.
"Joe Flacco is one of the top quarterbacks in the league," Patriots safety and defensive captain Devin McCourty said Wednesday. "I think his ability to get the ball down the field and also his experience and understanding of what's going on out there and knowing how to attack a defense."
Brady and Flacco have split four postseason games, but the Patriots (10-2) are 7-1 all-time against the Ravens (7-5) in the regular season.
"We have to go up into a hostile place in New England that we really enjoy playing," Flacco said. "It's going to be another important game in December up there on a Monday night, and it's going to be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it, big time."
In six regular-season games against the Ravens, Brady is 5-1 but has just six touchdowns with three interceptions and a passer rating of 83.6. He has also been sacked 14 times.
But that's the past. As far as the present, Brady last week posted win No. 201 to take the all-time lead, counting playoffs, away from Peyton Manning. He is one win from becoming the third quarterback with 180 regular-season victories -- a win he clearly hopes to get in this meeting with a fellow division leader.
"Now we have our toughest challenge," Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. "We're going to need to play our best football on Monday night up in New England to win that football game. We do believe we have a chance to do that based on where we're at right now. That's what we're shooting for."
Since returning from his four-game Deflategate suspension, Brady has completed 68.9 percent of his passes, throwing 19 touchdowns and just one interception -- the only pick thrown by New England's three quarterbacks this season.
But he will be missing two weapons in the teams' first Monday Night Football matchup since 2007. Rob Gronkowski is out for the season with back surgery and Danny Amendola is out until the playoffs with a high ankle sprain suffered in last week's win over the Los Angeles Rams.
But rookie wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell has emerged in recent games and the Patriots have gone 7-1 with Brady back.
The Ravens have won their last two, and really cooled off a hot team last week.
"Getting to the playoffs is a big accomplishment. To put yourself in position to play meaningful games in December is also a big accomplishment," Flacco said. "You can't take that for granted. You've got to keep your focus 100 percent of the time."
Lost a bit in the excitement of Brady's record-setting day and the celebration of the 2001 title team was the kicking of Stephen Gostkowski, who made four field goals, three of them 45 yards or longer, as a sign he could be out of his slump. He was named AFC special teams player of the week Wednesday.
"It's a start. It's one game," Gostkowski said after the game. "Every week is a different challenge. You just got to battle, keep your head down, stay humble and show up, but control your attitude and you effort and make sure both of those are good and have faith in the process that what you've been doing is going to continue."
Updated December 10, 2016