Ravens rookie quarterback Joe Flacco was just good enough in his first playoff start that he was able to manufacture a 27-9 win over the Miami Dolphins.
Just don't tell him he was simply a game-manager.
Flacco completed 9 of 23 passes for 135 yards and a 59.1 passer rating, but his ball security and leadership were keys in Baltimore's victory.
"I'm not going out there and trying to just manage the football, I am going out there and trying to make plays," Flacco said. "There were a handful of throwaways we had to do today, and we had a couple where we had them beat deep and we missed them at the end of the game.
"We didn't connect there, but we will make sure to connect in the future. We feel really good about how we played as an offensive football unit today."
Throughout the day, he took some shots downfield, but was uncharacteristically off-target.
Still, in a game where the Ravens' defense forced five turnovers and their offensive line kept Flacco from taking a sack, the first-round draft pick didn't need to beat Miami deep.
I think Joe played like a veteran," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "He played like a veteran in the playoffs. He made some tremendous throws, was very poised in the pocket. I thought our offensive line did a great job at protecting him and they allowed him to hold the ball, which he was willing to do."
Flacco did ice the outcome with his 5-yard touchdown run up the middle with 3:53 left in the game. He dropped back and faked pass before barreling the gut to score.
"It was a quarterback draw," Flacco explained. "I wanted to go back there and make it look like a pass, and the linemen did a great job of getting on their blocks and opening up a hole for me."
McClain Takes the Blame**
The game did not start out well for Le'Ron McClain.
Five plays into it, McClain was stripped of the football, and Dolphins linebabcker Joey Porter pounced on the fumble.
The Ravens were able to hold Miami to only a field goal on the ensuing possession, but that didn't stop McClain from kicking himself.
"I got down on myself," he said. "I was really ticked at myself. I told [teammates], 'I'm going to make up for it,' and I kept saying it. And I did."
McClain went on to total 75 yards on 18 carries (3.9-yard average) and even added a bruising 8-yard touchdown run that made the score 20-3 in the third quarter.
"We kept pounding today," McClain stated. "We gave up the ball early, but after the fumble everyone gathered around me and told me not to worry and keep running north and south. You have got to keep gutting it out. It's like I said last week, we came in here, and we were hungry."
Cigars For Everyone
Linebacker Nick Greisen was operating off four hours of sleep after a hectic turn of events. Upon arriving with the team in Miami, his wife, Caroline, went into labor back in Baltimore.
Greisen hopped on a plane for Charm City Saturday night, spent the night with his wife and returned just in time for a 9 a.m. breakfast call.
Along the way, Caroline gave birth to seven-pound, eight-ounce Claire McGuire.
Baby and mother were healthy, according to the frazzled linebacker.
"I was running on adrenaline by having a new girl back home," he said after the game. "To be able to be there was extraordinary."
Safety Tom Zbikowski handled the kickoff duties, while Jim Leonhard was the primary punt returner. Wideout Yamon Figurs saw only brief playing time. … The Ravens did not report any new injuries, although cornerback Samari Rolle did leave just before halftime to receive intravenous fluids. … Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps was in attendance sporting a black Ed Reed jersey. … Head coach John Harbaugh was amazed at the amount of Ravens fans that made the trek to south Florida. By the end of the game, most Ravens fans circled the lower ring of Dolphin Stadium, as the Miami faithful trickled out of their seats. "We just wanted to let them know we knew how hard it was to get down here," he said. "I bet some fans just have to get right back in their cars and drive back to Maryland. We're so proud of the fact that they were here. They were loud. We could hear them and it made a difference."