Football, especially in the NFL, is the ultimate team game. Behind every great player, much less every play, are ten other guys on the field that have a say in every single play's success or failure. However, we fans like to have our stars, and we anoint them based on their individual play over the course of a game, season and career.
Consistency is what gets them noticed as a star, or as a failure. Before last night's amazing ending, how many times had we seen the Baltimore Ravens, led by QB Joe Flacco let a lead slip away and look to put the blame on one player, usually reserving this tag for Flacco over the past three-plus years?
If we want to hold him accountable for making the mistakes that cost the team the games the team has lost, then it's only fair we give him due credit when he leads the team to victory, which he certainly did last night in the Ravens 23-20 last second comeback victory.
Flacco finished the game 28 of 47 for an even 300 yards, his second 300-yard passing game in a row and his second last second comeback victory in a row as well. However, it was his seven for 13, 92-yard drive in the final two minutes, culminating in his 26-yard TD pass to rookie Torrey Smith that everyone will remember.
His willingness to try over and over again to get the rookie wide receiver from Maryland the ball after he had repeatedly dropped catch-able balls all game, including earlier in the game-winning drive, shows what a leader he has become this season. Known around town as "Joe Cool," Terrell Suggs even referred to him on ESPN's First Take as "Cool Joe." Perhaps, based on this comeback that finally showed his killer instinct, he should be now called, "CuJoe," a play on words from the killer dog in novel, Cujo, by horror-writer Stephen King.
After eight games in 2011, Flacco has thrown for just over 2,000 yards, which puts him on pace for a 4,000 yard season, the first in his career. He has four 300-yards games so far this season, after having only one the entire 2010 season. He has nine TD passes, behind last year's pace, and also has the same amount of fumbles right now (9) than he had all of 2010. His completion percentage is behind all three of his other seasons, but he is also on pace to throw the ball over 100 more times in 2011 than he has ever in his four-year career.
Had the Ravens lost the game last night, many fans would have vilified Flacco for just another bad play with his fumble that led to the Steelers go-ahead touchdown. However, while it may have been his mistake that led to the lost lead, he wasn't on the field when Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger threw that touchdown pass, and he didn't led the Steelers defense into his backfield to strip the ball from him and he didn't drop all those perfectly thrown balls.
Every quarterback knows they are in the line of fire both on the field and in the minds of the fans, as that comes along with being the face of the franchise. Right now, Joe Flacco is absolutely the face of the Baltimore Ravens and deservedly so. How that title will go the remainder of 2011 remains to be seen but right now he deserves a ton of credit not only for last night's win, but for what could turn out to be a very special season in what is shaping up to be a great career.