It doesn’t really matter anymore what Joe Flacco says about himself and what others use to counter it. Once you win a Super Bowl MVP, leading the Baltimore Ravens to a 34-31 win, it really doesn’t matter anymore. Flacco, with the help of Jacboy Jones and Anquan Boldin, became an elite quarterback, forever written down in NFL mythology.
The game had two parts: Before the power outage and afterwards. Before, the Baltimore Ravens looked like about to turn this into one of the more on sided games in NFL history, going up 28-6 after Jacboy Jones returned a kickoff 108 yards. The San Francisco 49ers couldn’t handle the play-action the Baltimore Ravens kept using, creating big holes in the secondary, leaving a lot of room for Anquan Boldin to operate in, almost impossible to contain in one on one.
Joe Flacco operates the play-action too well, not just because of his strong arm. There have been moments through his career when he was too dependent on Ray Rice to get him out of tough spots, but no more. He doesn’t have the best receiving crew in the land, but can make plays with both his feet and his arm, based simply on strength of throwing and accuracy. He completed 22 of his 33 attempts for 287 yards, three touchdown passes and a passer rating of 124.2. Good chance it will go down in history as one of the best Super Bowl MVP performances, or at least the first half will.
In the second half, as the 49ers were breathing down the Ravens’ neck, things got a little bit more conservative and still, the Ravens managed to get two field goals in, just about keeping the right kind of distance. A great defensive goal-line stand, stopping the 49ers on the 5 and then managing Kaepernick into another bad throw to Michael Crabtree (no pass interference, despite the faces of Jim Harbaugh), and it was the first queue for celebrations.
On the way, there were a few other heroes besides Flacco, finishing the postseason with 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions thrown. Jacoby Jones had only once reception in the game, but it was for 56 yards, giving the Ravens their third touchdown of the day just before the end of the second quarter. He caught, fell, got up and eluded the tacklers. He went into supersonic mode to kickoff the second half, setting a Super Bowl record, returning a kick 108 yards.
At the end, not looking at the game but trying to find the difference in the numbers, it was Colin Kaepernick’s interception that made the difference. Both teams had their dominant halves, both teams fumbled and lost the ball once. Kaepernick made more bad throws than Flacco, with just one more incompletion (the interception) and got sacked once more than Flacco. As Al Pacino, sometimes it is about the inches.
Maybe it was having Anquan Boldin and converting on third down – the Ravens were 9-16 on 3rd down, the Niners only 2-9. Joe Flacco completed 7 of 10 third-down passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday and was 4 of 4 with a TD targeting Anquan Boldin.
Super Bowls and any win in the NFL can never be attributed to just one player, one man. Too many moving parts, too many complexities and moments of crucial decisiveness in it. And yet, quarterbacks get all the glory, most of the time. Joe Flacco probably deserves it this time as well.