The Baltimore Ravens have been known as a dominant defensive team with a strong running game–essentially an old-school and/or smash mouth football team–for a long time. However, they made it to Super Bowl XLVII (a.k.a. HarBowl) on the arm of their quarterback, Joe Flacco, and if they hope to win their final game, they’re going to need another strong performance from No. 5.
To say the Ravens got a steal in Flacco in the first round of the 2008 NFL Draft is a drastic understatement. The perennial playoff contender had a down year in 2007, but rebounded nicely by adding a new face of the franchise (offensively, at least) for the following year. Baltimore has won at least one playoff game in each season since.
In the 2013 NFL playoffs, however, the focus was on Ravens running back Ray Rice for the most part. Every analyst, talk show host and writer preached the same thing: Rice needs to have 25 touches for the Ravens to win. Well, he had a whole lot more than that in the Ravens’ thrilling 38-35 overtime win over the Denver Broncos in the divisional round of the playoffs and it still took two miraculous throws by Flacco to win that one. In fact, Rice had over 130 yards on 31 carries, but it still took 331 yards and three scores by Flacco to lift the Ravens in Denver.
Even in the AFC Championship game, it was Flacco who carried Baltimore. Rice wasn’t nearly as involved in that contest, rushing for only 48 yards on 19 carries. However, Flacco led the Ravens on three straight scoring drives in the second half that resulted in passing touchdowns. Then Baltimore’s defense did what it does best and the rest is history.
Flacco has not thrown an interception in these playoffs while compiling 853 and eight touchdowns in three games. He’s not “elite” they say, but he’s having the best postseason of any quarterback and he’s playing in the Big Game. If he can put together one more spectacular performance, he’ll start teammate Ray Lewis‘ retirement party off in some kind of fashion.