Ravens Riding Joe Flacco In Playoffs


Joe Flacco bristled in his own rather monotone way.

The insinuation that he, or any NFL player, elevates their game in the playoffs is a criticism, he said.

"The fact that you're playing one way in the regular season and a completely different way in the playoffs, I think that's a bunch of crap," Flacco said. "I think we go out there and lay it on the line every week."

Criticized for his inconsistency during the regular season, Flacco has sparkled in the playoffs.

He overshadowed the heralded quarterback of the future, Andrew Luck, in this year's wild-card round, then outplayed future Hall of Famer Peyton Manning in the divisional round.

Flacco has posted the highest quarterback rating (120.0) of any signal caller in the playoffs, and has thrown for 613 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.

So as Flacco and New England's Tom Brady are set to square off once again Sunday in Foxborough, Mass., who has the hotter hand?

"Joe Flacco is playing lights out right now," running back Ray Rice said. "We are riding with him."

Flacco is the first quarterback in NFL history to reach the playoffs (and win a game) in each of his first five seasons. Nobody has even done it four times.

His seven playoff wins are the third most among quarterbacks in the first five seasons of a career, trailing Brady (9-0) and Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger (8-2). His five road playoff wins are tied for the most in NFL history with New York's Eli Manning and Cowboys' Roger Staubach.

But Flacco has done more than just win in the past couple of years. He's shined in the process too.

Last year, he outdueled Brady in the AFC championship and delivered a perfect game-winning pass to wide receiver Lee Evans that was knocked out of his hands.

Flacco bested Brady once again with three touchdown passes and 382 yards passing in Week 3. This time he won, 31-30, for the first of Flacco's four game-winning drives this season.

Flacco has usually had the better day when facing Brady. Here's a look at their five career meetings:


2009 (Wild Card)


2011 (AFC championship)


Joe Flacco

27-47, 264, 2 TD, 1 INT (78.7)

4-10, 34, INT (10.0)

27-35, 285, 2 TD (119.3)

22-36, 306, 2 TD, 1 INT (95.4)

28-39, 382 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT (117.7)

Tom Brady

21-32, 258, 1 TD (100.8)

23-42, 154, 2 TD, 3 INT (49.1)

27-44, 292, 1 TD, 2 INT (69.5)

22-36, 239, 2 INT (57.5)

28-41, 335, 1 TD (101.2)

Brady has taken notice.

"I've played against him a bunch of times and he's always played really well," Brady said Wednesday. "I've watched a lot of film on him and his offense this year. Over the last few years I didn't have a chance to do that. He's obviously a great leader."

Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork also sung Flacco's praises.

"He is a great quarterback," Wilfork said. "I don't care what anybody says about him. The one thing he does is that he stays poised no matter how bad things get or how good things are. He is a tough quarterback. He is a competitor and it shows."

After Saturday's comeback win in Denver, Ray Lewis revealed that he called Flacco the team’s “general” now that the legendary linebacker is stepping down. Rice, who has also taken the torch from Lewis, echoed Lewis' comment.

"Joe Flacco is truly our leader," Rice said. "Not only has he taken the role of our leader, he is leading us down this whole stretch."

Flacco laughed about Lewis' comment, saying he was getting "beat up" by Lewis in the tunnel before the game and that it was "obviously pretty cool."

But he's not approaching Sunday's AFC championship any differently.

"I would like to think that I go out there and play consistently and approach everything the same way," Flacco said.

"This is actually the third time I'm standing up here getting ready to play in an AFC Championship game. It's pretty crazy when you think about it. Who knows what it's going to take to win on Sunday, but our mindset is it's going to take our best, and we're ready to go give it."

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