Annual Reminder of the Elite Run From Joe Flacco

Joe Flacco is yet to be picked up by an NFL team this year. This is the first time since he got drafted by the Ravens in 2008, he does not find himself on a roster this close to the season. With this news coming out, I figured it would be a good time to reminisce on his elite Super Bowl run in 2012.

No Raven fan will ever forget that incredible 4 game span Flacco had in the 2012 playoffs. In those playoffs, he threw for 1,140 yards, 11 touchdowns, 58% completion, and ZERO interceptions. Baltimore faced Indianapolis, Denver, New England, and then San Francisco. Having home field advantage in only the Wild Card game when they hosted Indianapolis.

I still think this was the hardest path any team has faced on their way to the Super Bowl. Having to play against first overall pick Andrew Luck, Hall of Famer Peyton Manning, future Hall of Famer Tom Brady, and the best defensive team that year, San Francisco. During that span, the Ravens played against 3 top 10 defenses.

Fair warning, probably my lengthiest blog I’ve written. But what’s a better way to get in midseason form than to recap the best NFL Playoffs of my life?!

Wild Card – Relocation Revenge

The Ravens lone home game came against Indianapolis. This was the first playoff meeting since 2010 when Indy beat Baltimore 20-3 on their way to the Super Bowl. The first half seemed like it was going to be the usual Ravens game, low scoring and relying on turnovers. Flacco started out 5-12 with 108 yards, and half of that came on one pass to Ray Rice.

Flacco eventually found his groove and finished the game 12-23 with 282 yards and 2 touchdowns. His main target this game (and majority of the playoffs) was Anquan Boldin who had five receptions for 145 yards and a late touchdown to seal the 15-point victory.

Always nice to beat Indianapolis, especially when an Irsay is still in control.

Divisional Round – Mile High Miracle

Maybe the most memorable Ravens game and moment still to this day came when they faced the Broncos. The entire game just seemed like it was destined for Denver to win. They scored touchdowns on both a 90-yard punt return and a 104-yard kickoff return. We knew we weren’t about to see the typical Ravens game, a defensive battle where whoever scores a touchdown first, wins. This was a shootout, and at this time many Ravens fans (myself included) didn’t like their chances in those games.

The Ravens were able to keep up with the top 3 offense, tied at 21 going into halftime. Flacco and Manning combined for 343 yards and 4 touchdowns in the first half, Flacco with the slight edge.

In the second half, both offenses seemed to go into hibernation until the final 7 minutes when the Broncos regained the lead. The Ravens found themselves down by a touchdown with 3 minutes left on 4th down. Flacco saw what seemed to be an open Pitta to keep the drive alive… but he dropped it. Well, there we go, season’s over. Better luck next year, is what I’m sure all Ravens fans were thinking.

Using the last of their timeouts, the Ravens were somehow able to put the ball back into the hands of soon to be crowned, “Elite” Joe Flacco. With just over 60 seconds left, Baltimore needed 77 yards to force OT. After two failed plays, Flacco stepped up in the pocket and sent a prayer to Jacoby Jones. Jacoby was able to answer that prayer and take it 70 yards to tie it all up with only 30 seconds remaining.

With how regulation ended, there was no way Baltimore was going to lose this game. I can’t even remember overtime in this game (probably because I kept watching Flacco’s touchdown on repeat), other than Justin Tucker’s game winning kick finally going through in the second overtime session.

Flacco finished the game 18-34 with 331 yards and 3 touchdowns, outplaying the Hall of Famer.

AFC Championship – Redemption Time

It was time to exercise some demons for Baltimore. With the way their season ended a year prior, many Ravens players were hoping to play the Patriots again to punch their Super Bowl ticket. In 2011 the season ended with Billy Cundiff shanking a 32-yard field goal in the AFC Championship. To make things worse, two plays before, Lee Evans dropped a perfect pass in the endzone that would’ve won the game.

Up to that point, the Ravens didn’t have much luck playing the Patriots. Going 0-6 in regular season games, and 1-1 in the playoffs.

The first half, the Ravens had no offense whatsoever. Flacco went 6-12 with 81 yards. While Brady and the Pats threw twice as much, going 14-24 with 139 yards and a touchdown. The Ravens were down 13-7 at the half. It was almost like the Ravens just couldn’t decide what kind of team they were. Either a stifling defense with subpar offense, or a dominant offense that gives up a lot of points on defense.

This trend stopped in the second half when the Ravens defense was able to hold Brady scoreless. Intercepting him twice and forcing a fumble. Flacco threw three straight touchdowns to take a 15-point lead, which was enough for the 28-13 victory.

Joe “Cool” Flacco went 15-24, 159 yards, and 3 touchdowns in the second half. For the second time in the short history of their franchise, the Ravens were on their way to the Super Bowl. And they couldn’t have done it without Flacco.

Super Bowl – The Blackout

This was the Super Bowl of storylines. Brother head coaches, Ray Lewis’s final game, the power outage, and could Joe Flacco keep up his historical run.

Early in the game, Flacco proved those 3 games prior were not a fluke. He finished the first half 13-20, 192 yards, and 3 touchdowns. This gave the Ravens a 21-6 lead at the half. To open up the second half, Jacoby Jones set a Super Bowl record with a 108-yard kickoff return to extend the lead to 22.

At that point, Ravens fans all over were already celebrating their second Super Bowl win. But the NFL would never want another Ravens Super Bowl blowout. The very next possession the lights went out and caused a 34 minute delay. After the delay and a questionable running into the kicker call, the Ravens maintained only a 2-point lead.

The Ravens played a rather conservative 2nd half to try and bleed that clock away. Outside of the kick return, the only points were scored by Justin Tucker. After a stressful final 10 minutes, the Ravens were crowned Super Bowl Champions. To top it all off, the Elite Joe Flacco was given Super Bowl MVP.

What Now?

Joe Flacco has had one of the most underrated NFL careers. Flacco ranks top 20 in both career passing yards (42,320) and wins (99). Flacco got drafted to the Ravens when they were 5-11 the season prior and got them to the AFC Championship his rookie year. Baltimore didn’t miss the playoffs in his first 5 years.

Flacco recently has said retirement is not an option for him right now. He believes he is still good enough to make a roster and maybe shock some people. For the upcoming season, I’m sure he will be one of the first names people throw out when a starter or backup gets hurt.

I just can’t wait for the day he returns to Baltimore to sign that one-day contract and retire as a Raven. And to top it all off, he comes back for the Ravens ring ceremony to kick off the 2024 NFL season and is inducted to the Ravens Ring of Honor.

I can dream, can’t I?

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