For a second year in a row, Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco outplayed New England quarterback and future first ballot Hall of Famer, Tom Brady, in the AFC Championship. Last season, the Ravens’ season ended in a loss to the Patriots due to a late dropped pass in the end zone and a short missed field goal.
On Sunday however, things were different. Baltimore came back from a 13-7 halftime deficit behind three second half touchdown passes from Flacco. While he’s not widely acknowledged as such, Flacco has become an elite quarterback in the NFL.
The Baltimore Ravens are headed to Super Bowl XLVII, but didn’t exactly come into the playoffs on fire. Baltimore after a 9-2 start, had lost four of its final five games to conclude the regular season. In the playoffs however, Baltimore has been the team that started 9-2 rather than the team that limped into the playoffs thanks largely to Flacco.
Flacco has averaged better than 284 yards-per-game passing in the playoffs and has thrown eight touchdown passes without an interception. Flacco has outplayed rookie sensation Andrew Luck and a pair of future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady along the way.
When Baltimore trailed at Denver, it Flacco who found Jacoby Jones for a 70-yard touchdown with just 31 seconds remaining to keep Baltimore’s season alive. And with the Ravens nursing a second half lead on Sunday, Baltimore was not content on trying to pound the ball and rely on their superb defense. Flacco rather, was throwing to put the Patriots away.
In just five seasons in the NFL, Flacco has led Baltimore to the playoffs every year and to the AFC Championship three times and now, the Super Bowl. While elite quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning and Matt Ryan have struggled to win in the playoffs, Flacco is 7-4 as a starter in the postseason. With Flacco as the starting quarterback in Baltimore, the Ravens have never gone one-and-done in the playoffs.
While much of the Super Bowl hype will center around the Harbaugh brothers coaching against one another in the big game or San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s sudden rise to stardom, the Ravens have a quarterback of their own looking to further his legacy. Flacco is without a doubt the greatest quarterback in the short history of the Baltimore Ravens and probably the best the city of Baltimore has seen since Johnny Unitas. While Flacco hasn’t yet reached Unitas status, he may be two weeks away from having the same number of Super Bowl rings.
The year prior to drafting Flacco, the Ravens were just 4-12 and were the one in the Miami Dolphins’ 1-15 finish in 2007. Now, the Baltimore Ravens have the longest active playoff streak in the NFL and are a win away from being world champions thanks largely to Flacco. Unheralded as a collegiate, Flacco came to Baltimore out of FCS Delaware after transferring from Pittsburgh. But ask any Ravens’ fan and he or she will tell you the same: Flacco playing his home games in Pittsburgh just wouldn’t seem right.
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