Joe Flacco now stands out amongst the crowd of NFL quarterbacks.
The Ravens clung to victory after watching a 28-6 lead nearly completely evaporate over the second half.
After the game, Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco was named Super Bowl MVP. The Delaware product racked up 287 passing yards and three first half touchdowns, without throwing an interception. It was a good performance on paper, and many media outlets were quick to brandish the "elite" tag for Flacco.
However, there were certainly aspects of the game that left something to be desired if Flacco is to be considered in the same class as the Brady's, Manning's and Brees' of the world.
The first thing that stands out is that most of his work came in the first half. In fact, more than 190 of his 287 passing yards came in the first two quarters. Flacco struggled to get going with consistency in the second half, with a lone 30-yard pass to Anquan Boldin standing out with any significance.
Part of this had to do with the fact that his team held a 28-6 lead entering their first offensive drive of the second half, so they may have tried to slow things down. Still, Flacco needed to recognize the offensive abilities of his opponents, and should have stepped up the passing game to counter as the lead shrunk.
The major thing that Flacco needs to do, though, is do what he did consistently in the first half over the course of the season.
ESPN's "Total QBR" statistic, which measures everything a quarterback does and rates them on a scale of 0-100 (with 50 being average), rated Flacco a fantastic 95.1 in the Super Bowl. However, his Total QBR for the 2012 season was a meager 46.8, his lowest since his rookie year, and rating as "below-average."
In fact, in three of his games this season, his Total QBR finished below 10.0. Flacco had a 0.3 in a blowout loss to Houston, a 0.4 in a blowout loss to Denver, and a 6.7 when he played just two series in the last game of the season.
By no means is Flacco a below-average quarterback. He is an excellent signal-caller who continues to get better. And now that he will likely earn a healthy new contract that will pay him like the elite, Flacco will have to live up to that tag over the course of a full season. He will have to avoid the big clunkers that he had three of this season.
With the Ravens defense losing Ray Lewis and overall looking vulnerable at times against high-powered offenses, it will be on Flacco's shoulders to step up and continue to lead his team to victory in close games.