If the stats didn't already show it, pundits declared after last year's AFC championship game:
Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco outdueled Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
Flacco completed 22 of his 36 throws for 306 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Brady was also 22 of 36, but threw for 239 yards and tossed two interceptions and no touchdowns. Brady had a 57.5 quarterback rating. Flacco had a 95.4 rating.
But as the quarterbacks get ready to face off again Sunday in Baltimore, they both look back at that night in a similar way.
"Well we didn't win the game, so it doesn't matter what people say about that," Flacco said Wednesday.
"I was glad we won the game and that's really what's most important," Brady said. "Joe played a great game. Certainly there are plays I wish I did a better job of. I'm hoping I don't turn the ball over like I did in that game."
The AFC title game was a turning point for Flacco in many national pundits' eyes. He delivered the pass that could have sent the Ravens to the Super Bowl had it not been dropped.
Earlier this offseason, Flacco said that game didn't change his perception of himself, however.
"I'm still just as confident today as I was before that game," Flacco said.
Brady has been impressed with what he's seen from Flacco, however, and has taken notice of his command in the Ravens' up-tempo offense.
And Brady thinks he may be the one keeping up with Flacco and Co. instead of the other way around.
"I just see him play and admire his leadership and his ability to lead the team," Brady said. "He makes great reads. … He can put the ball on the money 60 yards down the field. He's a dynamic player for them. They're scoring a lot of points so we've got to be prepared to try to match what they do."
Flacco grew up watching San Francisco 49ers great Joe Montana. Now he finds himself surrounded by similarly great quarterbacks, including Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Brady.
Flacco was asked if the Patriots quarterback is the "gold standard."
"Tom has played well for a lot of years now, before I was in the league," Flacco said. "I don't know if we necessarily aspire to play like him; we aspire to go out there and play well each week and get our team wins."
At the end of the day, Flacco doesn't spend any time preparing for Brady. He's preparing for the Patriots defense. So while Flacco vs. Brady is an intriguing storyline, it has no effect on the game itself.
"I think everybody puts so much pressure on Joe and everything is about Joe, [but] it's a team thing," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "It's not about him going up against Brady this week. It's about the Ravens going against the Patriots. If we can come out on the victorious side, then I think Joe will take that over stats any day."