Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco marched his team into Denver and led them to a berth in the AFC Championship after stunning Peyton Manning and the Broncos in double-overtime.
Surprisingly, Flacco outplayed the future Hall of Famer in the game and his big arm was the difference for Baltimore. What has to excite the Ravens and their fans is that Flacco seems to be coming into his own at exactly the right time for this team.
Flacco is riding high after his 331 yard, three touchdown performance and he has established himself as the leader.
With linebacker Ray Lewis in his final ride, the Ravens will be losing their emotional leader and they will need someone else to step up and take lead this team. Flacco is proving that he can be that man and Lewis has taken notice.
“He grew up today,” Lewis said after the game, per Aaron Wilson of the Baltimore Sun.
“I told him, ‘You’re the general, lead us to victory, you lead us today.’ I’m just here to facilitate things, just lead us. To look in his eyes, he had something different about him today and I just wanted to encourage him.
“I’ve always been a Joe Flacco fan and always will be, but to watch what he did today was probably one of the greatest things I’ll sit back and remember.”
Flacco has long been considered one of the best deep ball throwers in he NFL. He proved that to be true on Saturday afternoon when he tossed all three of his touchdowns from 30 plus yards. Flacco totaled 161 of his 331 yards on his touchdown throws alone. His arm strength was the difference as he was able to lead his receivers behind the Broncos secondary.
If Flacco can continue to play at his level in the AFC Championship game against New England or Houston, it will be clear that he has made the jump from average NFL signal-caller to franchise leader.
Ray Lewis is ready to pass the torch and Flacco could be the man on the receiving end.