It wasn't supposed to happen this way. The NFL was headed towards the blockbuster match-up once again between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. The ratings were sure to be off the charts and the league was salivating over the possibilities.
Unfortunately, no one told Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco or his teammates, who came back from the brink with seconds left in regulation on a miracle play then made the play to win the game in overtime on a rookie placekicker's field goal.
The defense did its job and so did the offensive line, but Special Teams had their problems that almost cost the team to be knocked out of the playoffs two years in a row on Special Teams mistakes.
Flacco outplayed Manning and should be getting his due accolades from the media, experts, analysts and yes, even this writer, who doubted Joe's ability to win on the road against what appeared to be very, very long odds.
Manning's final stats looked like this: 28 for 43 for 290 yards, 3-TDs, 2-INTs, and a QB Rating of 88.3
However, Flacco's stats dwarfed Peyton's: 18 for 34 for 331 yards, 3-TDs, 0-INTs, and a QB Rating of 116.2
Ravens RB Ray Rice chipped in with 130 yards rushing but it was without a doubt the performance of Flacco that carried the team early when he hit WR Torrey Smith with two TD passes and then Jacoby Jones with a 70-yard Hail Mary bomb with 30 seconds remaining to force the OT period.
One 15-minute overtime just wasn't enough and it took the second of two interceptions by CB Corey Graham to set up Baltimore for the game-winning 47-yard FG to set off celebrations all around Baltimore seconds later.
This game will undoubtedly go down as a classic, not only for the Ravens but for the league as well. It might have made a rich man out of Flacco, who now will command and deserve top dollar.
Major props, respect and congratulations to you, Joe. You did it.