One thing was not debatable in the Baltimore Ravens 23-20 loss to the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game: Ravens QB Joe Flacco outplayed his counterpart on the Patriots, Tom Brady. Even Brady said in his post-game interview, "I sucked." Obviously, while Tom did not actually "suck," he was definitely not the better quarterback on the field on this day.
Joe Flacco was under pressure from the media to show up and perform like a championship QB or continue being under the microscope and label more of a "game-manager" than an "elite" QB. He shut up a lot of critics yesterday, having one of the better games of his career, certainly the best of his playoff career and easily the best of the day among all four conference championship signal-callers.
Flacco finished with the exact same number of completions and attempts as Brady did (22 of 36), but amassed 306 passing yards to Brady's 239. Flacco threw two TD passes and we all know he should have had a third, which would have been the game-winner, but alas, no-can-do. Brady did rush for a score, but for the first time in 18 straight playoff games, did not throw for one, which should be another testament to the great job that the Ravens did in containing him.
Flacco threw one costly interception, but even Brady threw more, throwing two, both which kept the Ravens in the game; the first stopping a drive and the second giving the ball right back to Baltimore right after Joe threw his own pick. Tom Brady lost to the Baltimore Ravens 33-14 in the playoffs a couple of years ago and had his worst post season QB Rating ever (49). Sunday afternoon, he had his second worst ever (57.5), while Joe Flacco's was a solid 95.4.
In addition, with all the problems the skeptic have spewed about Flacco not being able to find his receivers, 12 of his 22 completions went to his three main wide receivers. Anquan Boldin had 6 catches for 101 yards and a 16.8 average, Torrey Smith had 3 catches for 82 yards, a 27.3 average and one TD, and Lee Evans hauled in 3 catches for 39 yards, a 13.0 average, but not the one more reception that would have made a huge difference.
The Ravens put up almost 400 yards of total offense (398), more than enough to not only shut up the nay-sayers, but also enough to win the game. Unfortunately, that did not happen and there has to be a winner and loser in every game. Just ask Ravens head coach John Harbaugh's brother, Jim, head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, devastated losers in overtime to the New York Giants yesterday.
However, Joe Flacco was definitely NOT the reason the Ravens lost to the Patriots. In fact, no one single player can be blamed for the defeat, although there are certainly currently two players receiving the most scrutiny for what could have been. Flacco proved he may not be in the group of the so-called "elite" QB's of the NFL, but yesterday he did proved that for at least one game, he certainly can play just like one.