FOXBORO, Mass. — Joe Flacco is a winner.
No quarterback owns more playoff wins since 2008 than the Baltimore Ravens signal-caller, who has 10, and he has thrown 21 touchdown passes with eight interceptions in his 14 career postseason games.
Flacco won’t dominate the stat sheet like Peyton Manning and consistently throw for 300-plus yards and three touchdowns, but when the pressure mounts, he makes clutch plays to put his team in a position to win playoff games. The latest example: Flacco completed 62.1 percent of his passes (18 of 29) last weekend for 259 yards and two touchdowns with zero turnovers in Baltimore’s 30-17 wild-card win over the rival Pittsburgh Steelers.
“I think he’s a good quarterback in all situations,” said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, whose team will host Flacco’s Ravens on Saturday in a divisional-round game. “He’s a good quarterback, period.
“I have a lot of respect for him. He has a great arm, can throw the ball the length of the field with guys hanging all over him. He’s mobile, he’s athletic enough to extend plays. Makes good decisions, using all of his weapons (wide receivers, tight ends, running backs). Throws on the run, throws short, throws deep, throws inside, throws outside. He’s pretty good, period.”
Flacco’s career playoff stats are tremendous, and his numbers from the beginning of the Ravens’ Super Bowl-winning campaign in 2012 speak for themselves.
The Ravens have averaged 23.5 points per game in the last three regular seasons, but they’ve scored 30.8 over their last five playoff games. In addition to Flacco and a quality group of pass-catching options led by veterans Steve Smith and Owen Daniels, the Ravens also have a quality rushing attack with Justin Forsett and Bernard Piece earning the majority of the carries. This duo helped Baltimore rank eighth in the NFL in rushing yards this season.
“Offensively they’re explosive in the running game, passing game,” Belichick said. “Flacco really does everything well. Forsett’s had a great year, does a great job in the running game, which sets up their play action. … They have a lot of weapons, a lot of balance.”
The Patriots’ defense has made great strides since Week 1, but Saturday’s matchup will be one of their toughest of the season. Flacco isn’t rattled by playoff pressure, especially on the road, and has enjoyed plenty of success (2-1 record) against the Patriots in postseason play. He will punish New England’s defense if it makes costly mistakes anywhere on the field.
Thumbnail photo via Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY Sports Images
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