Too Old? Too Slow? Anquan Boldin Was Too Busy Dominating to Notice
Heck, the Baltimore Ravens don't get to Super Bowl XLVII without Anquan Boldin.
Actually, there is a good chance they don't even advance from the first round of the playoffs without Anquan Boldin.
Flacco touched the ball on every offensive snap, and his sparkling 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions in the postseason made him the deserving, headline-snatching MVP after the confetti rained down on the Ravens.
His world, rightfully, will forever be changed—he already went to Disney World, and over the next few months, he'll make appearances on the most-watched talk shows to discuss his underdog story which will continue America's endearment towards him.
However, Boldin, the 10-year veteran who was deemed by many as being too slow and too old after failing to reach the 1,000-yard mark in his three seasons with the Ravens, mustn't be forgotten.
His playoff mastery didn't break any records, but the way he emerged in nearly every critical moment from Wild-Card Weekend to Super Bowl Sunday was the stuff of postseason legend, making plays for and bailing out Flacco countless times in the process.
Boldin was downright dominant and irrefutably intimidating, and it's time to pay homage to one of the league's most under-appreciated wideouts fresh off a sparkling postseason run of his own.
Against the Indianapolis Colts in the opening round, the Ravens took a 10-6 lead into halftime that certainly didn't appear to be safe after a hapless effort from the offense in the first two quarters.
After an third quarter Flacco play-action bootleg ended in a 13-yard sack by Robert Mathis, Baltimore stared at a nearly insurmountable 3rd and 19 from their own nine-yard-line.
Then, the first instance of Boldin's tremendous ball skills and unmatched will appeared.
Flacco rolled to his right, stepped up to elude pressure and heaved a prayer in the general vicinity of four players—receiver Tandon Doss, Colts' defensive backs Cassius Vaughn and Antoine Bethea and Boldin.
Clearly, neither Doss nor Boldin were open, but Boldin came down with the football for a 50-yard gain.
With the score the same later in the third, Flacco again summoned Boldin, his "slow" downfield threat, who made a spectacular over-the-shoulder grab and got both feet in bounds.
Two plays later, the Ravens scored a touchdown to go ahead 17-6.
After Andrew Luck led Indianapolis to a field goal to get within one score, Boldin capped off his ball-skill clinic with one of the finest displays of "strong hands" ever witnessed in the playoffs.
But Boldin was up for the challenge.
Although he didn't make any wow-inspiring catches, he was Flacco's go-to option, as he led Baltimore in receptions and targets in its miraculously thrilling overtime win.
Then, it was on to New England for a chance to enact revenge on the mighty Patriots, the team that beat the Ravens in the 2012 AFC title game.
Big-game Boldin was more than ready for the Pats, and he surely didn't stand down to the favored home club.
Following another pedestrian first half from the Ravens, one that netted only 130 total yards and didn't feature a Flacco-to-Boldin connection, some may have envisioned a sour end to the Ravens' playoff journey.
After all, the Patriots led 13-7 and were a remarkable 67-0 at home after taking an advantage into halftime during the Tom Brady era.
Then, Boldin happened.
With the Ravens defense suffocating the Patriots vaunted, up-tempo attack, the Ravens had their comeback chance, and they seized it.
Dennis Pitta caught a touchdown from Flacco to make it 14-13 in the third quarter.
But just about everyone expected a typical Brady resurgence—except Anquan Boldin.
On a goal-to-go situation to begin the fourth quarter, the former Florida State star got a free release to the inside, then faked outside before releasing toward the goal post, and Flacco lobbed him another one.
Boldin skied for the football over Devin McCourty and held on as he absorbed a hit from Steve Gregory on his way to the turf.
Running from the slot later in the fourth, realizing the type of zone Boldin was in, Flacco threw another jump ball his way in the end zone.
An exquisite demonstration of leaping ability, twisting-body control and keen concentration from Boldin, as Baltimore took the lead for good, 28-13.
But, Boldin wasn't done making something out of nothing, not with a Super Bowl title still to be won, not after his slant route was intercepted and taken 100 yards to the house by James Harrison in Super Bowl XLIII.
Almost as if on repeat, Flacco found a vaulting Boldin down the seam on a critical third down for the first touchdown of the Super Bowl.
The Ravens had come to play.
Later, on another third-down pass that seemed to be a calculated throwaway with defenders draped on him, Flacco again connected with Boldin. He attacked the football and hauled in an improbable 30-yard catch.
Boldin's stiff arm on Chris Culliver on a 30-yard scamper in the third quarter truly exemplified the receiver's aggressive on-field nature which directly resulted in his vast playoff accomplishment.
When the game ended, Boldin was the team's leading receiver with six grabs for 104 yards and a touchdown on a team-high 11 targets.
Ray Lewis was swarmed by media who waited with bated breath for another inspirational sermon from the Ravens' spiritual leader.
Joe Flacco won the MVP.
Some even lobbied for Jacoby Jones to take home the Super Bowl's prestigious individual award.
But none of those developments would have taken place without one Anquan Boldin—the genuine unsung hero of the Baltimore Ravens' Super Bowl triumph.
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