New Orleans: Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco capped a brilliant play-offs series by steering his team to a Super Bowl victory on Sunday, and was named as the game’s Most Valuable Player.
The unassuming and unheralded Flacco completed 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards and three first-half touchdowns in the 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
Setting aside any questions about just how good he is and where he ranks among the league’s best quarterbacks, Flacco became only the sixth in 47 Super Bowls to throw for three scores in a first half, connecting with Anquan Boldin for 13 yards, Dennis Pitta for 1, and Jacoby Jones for 56.
And the admittedly mild-mannered man, who played his college football far from the spotlight at Delaware, wrapped up Baltimore’s four-game run to the title with 11 TD passes and zero interceptions. It was an impressive streak that included road victories against two of the best quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
Flacco’s job in the second half on Sunday was more about being safe than spectacular. He had helped Baltimore take a 21-6 halftime lead, and it grew to 28-6 when Jacoby Jones returned the second half kick-off a Super Bowl-record 108 yards.
That, though, is when things got strange. First, a power cut knocked out many lights inside the Superdome, delaying action for more than a half-hour. And when play resumed, San Francisco quickly scored 17 consecutive points to make things more than interesting.
“I was sitting there thinking, ‘There’s no way. There’s no way we stop them here, but we did,” Flacco said.
“I tell you what, we don’t make it easy. But that’s the way the city of Baltimore is. That’s the way we are.”
Flacco put off contract renewal talks during the season, preferring to wait until the campaign was over. It was a smart decision, as his value will soar after a superb post-season and Sunday’s MVP performance.
The Super Bowl was also a platform for veteran Ray Lewis of Baltimore to sign out in style. The 37-year-old Lewis joins former NFL greats John Elway, Jerome Bettis and Michael Strahan as players who were able to win a Super Bowl in their last season.
“What better way to go out?” asked Lewis. “I can think about myself a little bit now.
“I was tested through this journey. It was an up-and-down roller-coaster, the injuries, the people and we [Ravens] stayed together.
“And now I get to ride off into the sunset with my second ring.”
Lewis had the big impact he was looking for in his final game but it wasn’t an easy week in New Orleans for him.
He was dogged by allegations that linked him to a substance banned by the National Football League. Lewis dismissed a Sports Illustrated report that he had tried to obtain a deer antler velvet extract to help speed his recovery from a torn tricep.
Lewis missed the Ravens’ final 10 regular season games with the injury.
The NFL defensive player of the year in 2000 had 57 tackles and one sack in six regular season games.
After dealing with the disruptions during the regular season he was able to take his final bows with his head up. “I had dreams after dreams. I couldn’t sleep,” Lewis said. “Every time I saw this moment. I tried to let my teammates know what this moment would feel like... as a team we finished the race.”