Would you call Joe Flacco an elite quarterback? While that’s still debatable, he does have a Super Bowl ring, and the “elite” contract to showoff with. How about Mark Sanchez? No one would call him elite, or even a good quarterback. But the two do have something in common – they’ve both beaten Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in the playoffs, in the same year.
Flacco’s achievement is more recent, and more memorable, dating back only six months ago. Flacco entered the 2012-2013 NFL postseason with a pretty impressive record of 5-4 in the postseason, and a chip on his shoulder from outplaying Tom Brady in the previous AFC champions game, but still coming up short, losing 23-20.
After getting through Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, the Baltimore Ravens traveled to Denver to play Peyton Manning and the Broncos, who beat Baltimore during the regular season less than one month before their postseason encounter.
But while Peyton Manning threw two interceptions in a very shaky performance from him, Flacco performed at the elite level he always claimed he belonged in, throwing three touchdowns passes, including the game tying score before overtime, a 70-yard touchdown pass to Jacoby Jones. Baltimore won in overtime 38-35, reaching their second consecutive AFC championship game against the Patriots.
The Ravens got over whatever demons held them back in the first half (going down 13-7), and completely shut down the Patriots’ offense, with Flacco throwing three touchdown passes in the second half, two of them to Anquan Boldin. He finished with a 21-for-36 for 240 yards and three touchdowns, compared to Brady, finishing with 320 yards, 1 touchdowns and two interceptions.
And yes, Sanchez, is also in this club, even though it probably had to do more with Rex Ryan and the Jets’ defense in 2010 than the actual ability of the easy-to-criticize quarterback.
Sanchez had a bad game in the wild card game against the Colts on January 8, 2011, completing 18-of-31 for 189 yards and one interception. However, the Jets managed to hold Manning on 225 yards and one touchdown, eventually winning the game (17-16) thanks to a Nick Folk kick.
Next game was on the road against divisional rivals, the New England Patriots. The Jets put on an impressive defensive performance, but unlike the win against the Colts, Mark Sanchez had an efficient, mature performance, throwing 3 touchdown passes and completing 64% of his passes, while Tom Brady, facing a defense that was on the field to do one thing – stop the pass, was held to 29-of-45, throwing two touchdowns and an interception, losing 28-21.