Reggie Jackson was Mr. October. The Yankees even had Mr. November in Derek Jeter. Those guys won championships in the fall months and bolstered their Hall of Fame credentials along the way. The Baltimore Ravens have “Joe January”. Joe Flacco has proven himself to be quite the performer once old calenders start getting pulled off the wall. Every game hasn’t been the most aesthetically pleasing, but more often than not, Joe has proven to be as good as any quarterback in the league come playoff time. And Sunday in New Orleans, he could morph into “February Flacco”.
Joe Flacco is whatever you want him to be now. He’s clutch. This postseason, the Ravens Super Bowl aspirations went from “pipe-dream” to “team of destiny” in the time it took a throw to travel 60-some yards from Flacco’s right hand to the waiting arms of Jacoby Jones two weeks ago in frigid Denver.
He can put the team on his back. Last week, Flacco starred during a white-hot second half on a field where many playoff dreams have died over the last decade plus.
He’s tough. He has taken every meaningful snap since opening day his rookie year. Eighty regular season games. Twelve (about to be 13) post-season starts. Not for one play has the man needed to come off the field.
He’s cool. You want a fiery type behind center? Be my guest. I’ll take the Unitas type. The same demeanor, win or lose.
It doesn’t have to be all about Joe either. Some quarterbacks want to be the center of the universe. Tom Brady and Drew Brees come to mind. Flacco can be the hero, as in Denver, or let someone else handle the load (see 4th and 29).
I’ve heard some pretty telling commentary on the Baltimore signal caller. I’ve heard how Joe made Andrew Luck look like an over-matched rookie in the first round while making Peyton Manning seem like an over-the-hill veteran that couldn’t keep pace in Denver. You could say he did the same last week in New England.
To me, Joe is now a seasoned veteran poised to take a giant step toward greatness. His numbers aren’t always gaudy but his record sure is. Do you know the Ravens would have to lose 28 straight games to drop Flacco to a .500 quarterback as a starter in the regular season? Add another four straight in the playoffs.
Should the Ravens win in New Orleans on Sunday, Flacco will achieve greatest honor bestowed on NFL quarterbacks. Super Bowl Winner. Today’s “greats” all have that one thing in common. They won the Super Bowl. Aaron Rogers, Peyton, Eli, Brady, Roethlisberger and Brees all have that feather in their cap. Everyone else is second tier.
A win Sunday would cement Flacco’s spot in the Ravens Ring of Honor. And it would, in my opinion, complete the foundation on what could become a Hall of Fame career. Yeah, I said it. Seems odd but think about it. He’s in his 5th year. It’s not hard to picture him making another appearance or two (or more) in the Super Bowl. If he only adds 17,633 future yards to the 17,633 yards he’s already amassed, he’d be listed 17th all-time. Add three more decent seasons to that number, and he’d be top 10 all-time.
As for the rest of the Ravens, they certainly appear poised to give it their best shot come Sunday. They are as healthy as you can be at this point. They have a clear rallying point. They are hot. They have some Super Bowl experience. I think the Ravens have slightly better players on offense than the 49ers. I think the Ravens have slightly better special teams units (certainly a more stable kicker at this point). Defensively, both teams are loaded. I like both Harbaugh’s but Jim can act like a nut. I could see him losing control in a game this big. And I like the intangibles the Ravens bring to the game. And I like the Ravens holding on to win 24-17.