He came out of the box throwing. And when the game was on the line, he did the same thing. The Baltimore Ravens are Super Bowl champions because Joe Flacco is their quarterback.
Oh, you can pick a variety of heroes and catalysts for the Ravens’ 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Dome on Sunday night.
You can talk about key runs and clutch catches and a final goal line defense that shut the 49ers down in the final seconds just when they seemed about to stage one of the more dramatic comebacks in Super Bowl history, coming all the way back from a 28-6 deficit at the start of the third quarter.
You can even talk about a 34 minute delay early in the third quarter caused by power outage in the Superdome which seemed to work better for the 49ers than the Ravens.
But the difference early and the difference late was Flacco, the much talked about, often maligned quarterback for the Ravens.
Flacco threw three TD passes, completed 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards and was voted the MVP. Just as he did when he went on the road and led the Ravens past the Denver Broncos and QB Peyton Manning and just as he did when he went to New England and helped the Ravens beat Tom Brady and the Patriots, Flacco was the better QB, the better leader, the difference maker.
How else to explain a QB who throws 11 TDS and 0 picks in the playoffs when the pressure is the highest and the stakes are the greatest?
Flacco was great early throwing 3 TD passes as the Ravens sprinted past the 49ers to a 21-6 halftime lead which grew to 28-6 when Jacoby Jones raced 108 yards with the second half kickoff to build the Ravens lead to what looked like an insurmountable 28-6 edge.
But he was also good enough at clutch time when he kept a drive going with a key third down pass for a first down to Anquan Boldin which allowed the Ravens’ Justin Tucker to kick a 38-yard field goal to extend the Ravens lead to 5 points with 4:19 remaining.
“It’s unbelieveable,” said Flacco as he made the post game round of press conferences after the game. “When you start playing spots, you go out in the school yard, you dream of being a Super Bowl champion. We made it happen.”
Yes, they did. The Ravens lived on the edge all season, barely making the playoffs. But once it was post season time, it became Flacco time.
Is Flacco Joe Montana or Tom Brady with multiple Super Bowl wins? Not yet. But in his first five years in the NFL he has as many wins as either of those QBs and his career is just starting to peak.
Is he and elite QB, worthy of a $100 million type contract the New Orleans Saints recently gave Drew Brees?
Yes and yes and he will get that type of money when the celebrations quiet down and Flacco and the Ravens can talk about the business part of the deal which has made the Ravens a Super Bowl champion and an elite team–at least in January and February
“Can we all agree that Joe Flacco is elite,” said Ravens coach John Harbaugh.
When asked if he was now the leader of this team now that linebacker Ray Lewis has ridden off into retirement with the Super Bowl victory that was such a motivating factor.
“No doubt about it,” said Flacco. I’m going to lead this football team. But there is not a closer knit type of guys that I’ve been around.”
Super Bowl XLVII is now part of history. It will go down as a great game, which matched the hype. It will go down as the Harbaugh Bowl, a battle between John and Jim (49ers coach) who matched their coaching talents against each other on the biggest stage in sports.
It will down as the Ray Lewis farewell tour. It will go down as the first time the San Francisco 49ers lost a Super Bowl in five tries.
But it will also go down as the game that Joe Flacco emerged as an elite NFL quarterback.
And right now no one will argue the point.
© 2013, Mark. All rights reserved.