I believe you can win a Super Bowl, Joe. I really do.
Even when you’re completing 59 percent of your passes when the season goal was 70 percent, I believe you can do it.
Even though this offseason you publicly said you were the best quarterback in the NFL, and through 12 games so far you don’t crack the top 12 in any meaningful passing category, I believe you can do it.
I don’t believe a serious argument can be made for your being an “elite” quarterback, however one chooses to define that arbitrary adjective. At this point it may be tough to find a place for you in the top 10 quarterbacks, although I think you’re close.
So, Joe, why do I believe you can join a very select list and be a Super Bowl winning quarterback? As ESPN’s Ashley Fox recently said, “Flacco can be ordinary, and in this day and age, ordinary doesn't win the Super Bowl. Extraordinary does.”
She is 100 percent correct with that statement. But notice how she said you can be ordinary. This is true, but it also doesn’t mean that you are ordinary. You can also be extraordinary and you’ve displayed flashes of brilliance in big-time situations.
The problem is that this brilliance is often fleeting with you, which causes angst, confusion and doubt among both Ravens fans and NFL watchers in general. But I know it’s there somewhere, and I know it can come out when it desperately has to.
Here are four examples that give me hope:
2009 Week 4 loss at New England, 27-21
This put both teams at 3-1 for the season.
With the game on the line and down by six with 3:32 left to go, you methodically drove the offense from your own 20-yard line to New England’s 14-yard line. Then, with :28 left, on fourth down and four to go, you threw a perfect pass to Mark Clayton that would have been good for a first down.
Clayton dropped the pass. Game over.
Now there are no guarantees you would have won the game, but you had already thrown a touchdown earlier in the fourth quarter, you still had a timeout left and would’ve been inside the 10-yard line and you would’ve completed 7 out of 11 passes on that drive up to that point. That had all the makings for a game-winning drive against an AFC powerhouse in an important regular season game.
You ended the game with 264 yards and two touchdowns.
2010 Week 4 win at Pittsburgh, 17-14
This game put both teams at 3-1 for the season.
Starting the drive at Pittsburgh’s 40-yard line down 14-10 with :55 left and no timeouts, you completed three quick passes to bring the offense to the 18-yard line. Then with :28 remaining, you connected with T.J. Houshmandzadeh on a beautiful out-and-up for the game-winning score.
You ended the game with 256 yards and that crucial touchdown in a key victory at Heinz Field.
2011 Week 9 win at Pittsburgh, 23-20
This game put the Ravens at 6-2 and the Steelers at 6-3 for the season.
This was possibly the best game-winning drive of your career, starting on your own 8-yard line and down by four points with 2:17 left. You engineered a 12-play, 92-yard drive that ended with a perfectly thrown ball to the outstretched Torrey Smith for a game-winning 26-yard touchdown.
There were multiple drops on this drive by Smith and Anquan Boldin, but you overcame that with perfect throw after perfect throw to beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh. You ended with 300 yards passing and that memorable touchdown.
2011 AFC Championship Game loss at New England, 23-20
Ravens fans don’t want to remember this game, but I choose to bring it up because of your effort.
In the biggest game of your career, you outplayed Tom Brady and gave your team a chance to go to the Super Bowl. With 1:44 remaining, you started the drive at your own 21-yard line and drove your team to the Patriots’ 14-yard line, throwing the would-be game-winning perfect touchdown pass to Lee Evans…except Evans couldn’t hold onto the ball (I refuse to call this a drop like many have, because the defender did make a play on the ball, but it was still catchable and still a great throw).
And we all know what happened with Billy Cundiff after that play. Game over. Season over. You ended the game with 306 yards passing and two touchdowns, although it could have been more.
I highlight these four games because they show that you have the ability to step up and put the team on your back when a big game is on the line. In each of these games, you made all of the necessary plays at the end, and your performance was anything but ordinary in these pressure situations.
So, Joe, now is the time to make the name for yourself that you’ve wanted every time you’ve had to defend yourself to the media. You can turn this into your team. The defense is decimated by injuries, and we don’t know if and when Terrell Suggs will return, or how effective he’ll be. Ray Lewis is returning, but he won’t be 100 percent either. Haloti Ngata is banged up and hasn’t been his normal dominant self all year.
You can take the reins of this team and direct it to where it wants to go. Trent Dilfer is the only quarterback in Ravens history to have a Super Bowl victory, and he is not revered the way most championship quarterbacks are.
If you raise your play to that extraordinary level that you’ve shown you can reach, you will take control of this team and carry them to a title. You will cement your name in Baltimore history and NFL history, put a stamp on your legacy as a Super Bowl champion and cash in on a hefty pay day since this is the final year of your contract.
You don’t always make it easy, but I believe you can be the reason the Ravens win a Super Bowl.
For your sake, prove me right.