When talking about Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, everyone is pretty much in agreement that he’s beyond his years in age just by being able to control a football game by not making the big mistake that costs his team the game.
The second year quarterback from Delaware does what it takes to win. He allows the Ravens to play to their strengths, running the ball and playing solid defense, while unselfishly taking a back seat himself.
He’s no statistical monger in this age of west coast and stretch offenses where it seems everyone has great passing stats. The only stat Flacco seems to care about is wins, and he does it well.
There is no better example of his unselfishness than last week's AFC Wild Card game at New England where Flacco only made 10 passing attempts the entire game while easily winning the game 33-14. The win was fueled by their great running attack and defense that got them off to a 24-0 start in the first quarter.
"I don't care. If we win, we win," Flacco said. "Quarterbacks like to throw the ball and do it that way, but it doesn't matter. … C'mon, we were up 24 points after the first quarter.”
“You really think we're going to throw the ball 30 times? I don't think so."
That style of win makes him a throwback type of quarterback, not from this era. His season stat lines look similar to those greats of the 70’s with Bob Griese, Terry Bradshaw, Roger Stuabach, and Ken Stabler rather than his counterparts in current times.
Just like all of the greats from the 70’s, those teams were built on running the ball and playing great defense. The quarterback got to go along for the ride as long as he didn’t turn the ball over and as long he won games, especially playoff games.
As a rookie last season, Flacco did the amazing. He led his team to the AFC Championship game by beating two good opponents, including the No. 1 seeded Tennessee Titans. Winning a playoff game as a rookie is almost unheard of, but winning as a rookie on the road, and winning two playoff games total is near historic.
His career tally in postseason play—where most of the greats are measured—reads three wins and one loss, that loss being to the eventually Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers.
The three playoff wins puts him in some pretty good company that include Dan Fouts, Phillip Rivers, Bernie Kosar, and Warren Moon. The wins also elevate him past Hall of Famer Joe Namath (who surprisingly only had two playoff wins), and the popularly publicized hype machine of Tony Romo who just got his first win last week in three tries.
To be fair to the older players, there are many more playoff games today than in the past, but it still takes a certain type of player to get his team to the next week when it’s do-or- die time.
Joe Flacco visits Indianapolis Saturday for the Divisional Playoffs, a place where he made one of his biggest mistakes of the season late in the week 11 game. With less than three minutes to go, trailing 17-15 on the Colts 14-yard line facing a third and 7 situation, Flacco threw a short pass that was intercepted—his only pick of the game.
The Colts were able to run the clock out and remain unbeaten, but Flacco kept them in the game. Things may be different this time around. The Colts had a bye week after throwing away the last two regular season games.
It’s hard to say just how fluid the Colts offense will be, but we do know the Ravens are in full playoff mode right now, just as they were last season when they beat the No. 1 seed. We also know Flacco will be as unflappable as ever for this contest just like the greats from the 70’s were in big games.
Saturday also happens to be Flacco's birthday. He'll be 25.
"I don't celebrate my birthday. Are you kidding me?" he said. "That will be after the season's all over. … I'm going to ignore it and hopefully celebrate it with a win."