Joe Flacco scored his fifth career road playoff win, which tied him with Eli Manning for most all-time, with his victory against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the divisional round. He followed that up this past weekend by owning the record alone, with six, after getting revenge against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Foxboro for the 2011 AFC Championship game. The knock against Flacco was that he was merely a tag-along asset riding the coat tails of the Ravens defense and Ray Rice’s running attack. This year’s playoff run and his performance in those two victories are not.
Flacco pulled out the miracle victory against Denver last week due to a 70-yard touchdown pass as time winded down at the end of regulation that forced overtime. It wasn’t just that one pass. Flacco went into hostile territory and outplayed future first-ballot Hall of Famer in Payton Manning. He threw for 331 yards and three touchdowns against no turnovers for the victory. On a day when the defense could not get it done Flacco was there to keep the Ravens Super Bowl hopes alive. He was simply incredible and big game ready.
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The dream continued this past weekend when the Ravens arrived in Foxboro to play the great New England Patriots. Most experts said New England would win at home and move on to the Super Bowl. The Ravens came within one dropped Lee Evans pass from going to the Super Bowl last year and were looking for retribution.
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The Ravens defense looked like a throwback to the defense of old, limiting and confusing the Patriots offensive attack but the star of the show was once again Flacco. He went into hostile territory and threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns while not turning the ball over. Down by six at halftime, Flacco brought the Ravens back for a resounding 28-13 victory.
He clearly outplayed Brady in two consecutive AFC Championship games. Comparing the last two Championship games, Flacco has thrown for 546 yards, five touchdowns and one interception compared to Brady’s 559 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. He also outplayed Peyton Manning two weeks ago. To put that in context he went on the road in back-to-back weeks and outplayed two future first -allot Hall of Famers in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Can he do it against the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII on February 3rd 2013? Will he be the Super Bowl MVP? We will have to wait and see, but if I was putting money on it I would bet yes. Flacco’s maturation process has been exciting to watch. He is now comfortable with himself and shines on the largest stages. What more do you want from your quarterback? He is not afraid to put the game on his shoulders and lead his team to victory. If this doesn’t make him “big game” then I just don’t understand the meaning.