In arguably one of the bigger surprises of the 2012-13 NFL playoffs, the Baltimore Ravens have advanced to the organization’s second Super Bowl after topping the New England Patriots.
The Ravens, after backing their way into the playoffs with a string of late-season losses, took down the AFC’s two top-seeded teams in consecutive weeks on the road, last week defeating Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in an improbable double overtime victory.
Last night, as in the NFC title game, it was the road team’s ability to shut down the home team’s offense in the second half that ultimately proved to be the difference, as both the Ravens and the 49ers pitched shutouts in the third and fourth quarters en route to the Super Bowl.
Like the 49ers, the Ravens trailed the Patriots at halftime, who had great success marching up and down the field for much of the game before time and time again failing to reach the end zone.
Tom Brady threw the ball 54 times, completing 29 of his passes for 320 yards and a touchdown. However, he also threw two interceptions in the fourth quarter, which helped cement the Ravens’ 28-13 victory.
In addition, Patriots running back Stevan Ridley fumbled the ball early in the fourth quarter as well after taking a nasty head shot by Ravens safety Bernard Pollard. Because he was a runner, a blow to the head was legal and thus not a penalty; nonetheless, he was forced to leave the game with a ‘head injury’—code word for a concussion.
One of the biggest stories of this postseason has been the rise of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, who in his fifth season has already won more playoff games on the road than any other quarterback in league history. His 8 touchdowns and 0 interceptions this postseason is a feat matched by few.
Though his sub-55% completion percentage during this playoff run in and of itself is unimpressive, his quarterback rating of 114.7 is a full 27 points higher than his QBR during the regular season.
Coming into the year, Flacco stated in an interview that he believed he was the best quarterback in the league. While it is not fair to say that he has proven that to be true, he has led his team to the Super Bowl, and, in his contract year, is certainly adding millions onto his new deal with every touchdown and playoff victory.
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