OWINGS MILLS – Joe Flacco is convinced the Baltimore Ravens need to officially join the NFL arms race, and commit to an aggressive passing game after scorching the St. Louis Rams' secondary.
Never mind that the Rams' cornerbacks of Justin King and Bradley Fletcher are suspect to be kind and liable to be victimized by many quarterbacks, Flacco is certain that the Ravens need to emphasize an aerial approach going forward.
It was definitely an effective strategy during the Ravens' 37-7 demolition of the Rams on Sunday as Flacco completed 27 of 48 passes for three touchdowns and a career-high 389 yards.
"We came out and attacked," Flacco said. "I was thinking to myself: ‘What are the top teams in this league? What are they?' They are passing teams. Do they run the ball? Yeah, but they really throw the ball very well. They're not just the top offenses. They're the top teams.
"Is the goal getting to the playoffs for us? No, it's not getting to the playoffs for us. We know we can do that. The goal is to win the Super Bowl. In order to do that, you have to do that."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh loves the enthusiasm after watching Flacco target King for three touchdown passes to speedster rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith in the first quarter.
He's not going to abandon the run, though. Not with Ray Rice headlining his backfield.
"I think Joe is right about a lot of things, he's right about the fact that you have to go after people," Harbaugh said. "You have to attack people down the field and outside. Would you want your quarterback not saying that? He probably wants to throw every single time. That's what you expect from your quarterback.
"He and I talked about that a lot this week. That was stuff that he expressed to me going into the game. That's true. You have aspirations to win a championship. You've got to be able to attack people in every different way, but that's not to say we aren't going to run the ball, too. You've got to be able to do everything well."
The Ravens revamped their offense this year, getting younger and faster in the process of cutting wide receiver Derrick Mason and tight end Todd Heap and drafting Smith in the second round and acquiring Lee Evans via a trade from the Buffalo Bills.
Now, they're beginning to add a vertical element to their offense as Flacco connected with Smith for touchdown passes on a 74-yard fly route and a 41-yard post pattern.
Only Vinny Testaverde has ever passed for more yards -- 429 during the Ravens' inaugural season in 1996 -- in a single game for Baltimore than Flacco's Sunday output.
"You want to be able to stretch the field vertically, which is something that we've really wanted to do coming into this year," Harbaugh said. "To see that happen is a big plus for us. It opens up the checkdowns, it opens up the crossing routes, it opens up the run game."
The Rams entered the game with the last-ranked rushing defense, so they were anticipating that Baltimore would try to pound the football down their throats.
Instead, they did the opposite although Ray Rice still rushed for 81 yards on nine carries.
"They were defending the run, there's no question," Harbaugh said. "I think they expected us to come out running the ball, too. So, they gave us looks that were not great against the run but good against the pass. What we had to do was beat those guys out there one-on-one. Those young receivers stepped up and did that."
The Ravens set franchise records for most yards of total offense with 553for a game and in a half with 406 yards by halftime.
They set a tone in the first half.
"We wanted to come out this week and make a statement," wide receiver Anquan Boldin said. "We wanted to start fast."
And it took the pressure off the Ravens' defense, which teed off on Rams quarterback Sam Bradford for five sacks.
"We have a good defense, the way our defense has played however long we've been in Baltimore," Flacco said "When you have a defense like that, it's my opinion you shouldn't be grinding out games 14-7 every week. We need to come out here and be aggressive and take control of games. If we lose a game doing that, we lose a game doing that."
Trying to reposition themselves as a more balanced offense could happen for the Ravens if Smith continues to progress after a silent first two games followed by his breakout performance.
The Ravens are also hoping to get Evans healthy after resting his injured left ankle Sunday against the Rams.
Between Smith and Evans' speed and athletic tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta with wide receiver Anquan Boldin working short to intermediate routes, the Ravens could have the makings of a dangerous passing game.
"That's the idea," Harbaugh said. "You've got two downfield type threat guys. I'd put the tight ends in the same category. Anquan gets downfield in different ways. We've got a chance to be pretty good."
The New York Jets could be a different story, though, in how they defend the Ravens' receivers.
They feature All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis and mercurial cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who has flashes of greatness mixed with concentration lapses.
"Teams will do what they do," Harbaugh said. "I'm not going to expect the Jets to back off. They've got great corners. I'm sure they're going to challenge us and see what they can make of how we play. And I'm sure we'll challenge them and see how good they are."
Notebook: Nakamura sidelined at least a month with knee injury
OWINGS MILLS – Baltimore Ravens reserve safety Haruki Nakamura is expected to be sidelined for at least a month due to slightly torn posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
Nakamura isn't expected to need to have surgery for an injury incurred during the Ravens' 37-7 win over the St. Louis Rams on Sunday at Edward Jones Dome.
A magnetic resonance imaging exam revealed the extent of the damage later Monday.
"It looks promising in terms of him being able to come back, maybe a month or so," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We'll see."
Nakamura got hurt during the first quarter and didn't return after heading to the locker room to have his knee examined.
He's not on crutches.
The Ravens are dealing with other injuries in the secondary, including rookie cornerback Jimmy Smith out indefinitely with a high left ankle sprain and cornerback Domonique Foxworth still on the mend from a torn anterior cruciate ligament from last year.
Because the Ravens have safety Bernard Pollard on the roster and starters Ed Reed and Tom Zbikowski are healthy, the current plan isn't to necessarily sign a replacement for Nakamura.
"We'll be talking about that," Harbaugh said. "I think we're OK with the guys we have, because Chris Carr can go back there and swing at safety. Lardarius [Webb] could go back there and swing at safety if we needed him to. Those guys are playing the slot. I don't think we have a plan today to make a move today, but that could change."
HARBAUGH NONCOMMITTAL ON EVANS, FOXWORTH: Wide receiver Lee Evans and Foxworth might return this week after being scratched against the St. Louis Rams, or they might not.
Evans has a left ankle injury that has hampered him since the preseason. And Foxworth is still on the mend from a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered last year.
Ravens coach John Harbaugh shed no light on whether Evans or Foxworth will return this week against the New York Jets.
"I have no idea, two different cases," Harbaugh said. "We'll just have to see how it goes this week and see where they're at, probably watch and see if they can practice or not. If they go out and practice, how does it respond the next day? We'll just have to see."
ELLERBE INJURED: Backup inside linebacker Dannell Ellerbe's status is up in the air for Sunday due to a hamstring injury.
"Dannell's hamstring is just going to be throughout the week to see how it responds," Harbaugh said. "So, we'll probably know by Friday."
OHER HOLDS UP: Although offensive tackle Michael Oher allowed a sack to Rams defensive end Chris Long and was flagged for holding and illegal hands to the face, he got solid reviews from the coaching staff.
Oher had no false starts after committing a pair of infractions against the Tennessee Titans.
And Long finished with only one tackle, a sack of Joe Flacco for a loss of two yards with one other quarterback hit.
"I thought he did a good job against Chris Long, run and pass," Harbaugh said. "He did a good job of kind of controlling the pass set, slowing it down a little bit. He was still right on time. A couple of times, it was perfect timing, so I kind of held my breath a couple times.
"Chris Long is a relentless guy, a violent pass rusher, and Michael Oher did a nice job with his punch. I think one time, Chris spun inside and got just a bit of pressure, then Mike flattened him right back out. So, it was a good day for Michael."
NGATA TIME: All-Pro defensive tackle Haloti Ngata displayed his athleticism on a 28-yard fumble return for a touchdown, bending over to scoop up the loose football without slowing down.
The fourth-quarter score pushed the game further out of reach.
"I guess it's not too tough for Haloti, it would be tough for any of us probably," Harbaugh said. "That's a great play. He is just an unbelievable athlete for his size. Then, he had a little limp leg there. He kind of gave him the limp leg, left leg, and slid away from the tackle, threw the ball in the stands, had a nice celebration."
After the touchdown, middle linebacker Ray Lewis tried to congratulate Ngata and bounced off him and fell to the ground.
"Did you see Ray on the celebration? Did anybody catch that?" Harbaugh said. "We caught that in our meeting today. We showed it to the team. It was as hard as Ray went down all day, on the celebration."
TRASH-TALK?: The New York Jets take their cue from Rex Ryan, their brash, swaggering coach.
And that includes talking big and then attempting to back up those words.
Harbaugh insisted that he won't muzzle his players this week.
"We always tell our guys really to be themselves," Harbaugh said. "We don't tell them not to say anything. We encourage them to be their best selves. I think our guys are pretty good guys, and our guys are classy guys. I'm sure our guys will have fun with it.
"I don't think you will hear too much malicious coming out of our guys. Our guys like those guys, so to speak. It will be good laughs listening to what comes out of New York, and we will be looking forward to it because it is always funny. It's always entertaining. It makes it more fun."
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