Joe Flacco won. The 27-year old won two things on Sunday night: his first Super Bowl ring with a 34-31 triumph over the favored San Francisco 49ers on AND he won the money game with the Baltimore Ravens. In a move that took a lot of – as a basketball coach at my high school would say – ‘intestinal fortitude’ – Flacco put off contract negotiations with the team until the end of the season.
I don’t know if Flacco predicted that his season would extend until the first Sunday in February, but he has now bank-rolled the rest of his career (and life) by his performance on Sunday night. That performance under football’s biggest lights (except for 34 minutes on Sunday, of course), will prove to be a large, extensive contract for “The Man” of the Ravens.
He also came home with some unexpected hardware as he collected the ‘Most Valuable Player’ award.
Since 2007, only one non-Quarterback has won the award of ‘Most Valuable Player’ on the game’s biggest stage.
That one exception was Pittsburgh Wide Receiver Santonio Holmes in the 2009 Super Bowl, pitting the Steelers and Cardinals against one another, and Holmes deserved it. After a long Larry Fitzgerald touchdown put the Cardinals up 23-20 with about 2:00 to go, Roethlisberger drove the Steelers down the field and with 35 seconds to go, lofted a pass over three Cardinals defenders to Holmes who, dragging the tips of toes, brought the ball in for the touchdown and the win. That throw became possibly the best pass-and-catch pairing of all time.
Since 2007, the Manning brothers (Eli twice), Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers have all captured the MVP trophy and driven off in that brand new ride. Flacco joined that prestigious crew of ‘elite’ Quarterbacks in receiving that award.
The Super Bowl MVPs have all not been worthy in past seasons. Drew Brees won the Super Bowl because of Sean Payton’s gutsy onside kick and an interception return for the touchdown by Tracy Porter, Peyton won because of Vinateri’s three field goals and his defenses five forced turnovers. Also, the first of Eli’s Super Bowl wins in 2007 was due to the luck of David Tyree’s helmet and the stingy defense line more than Eli’s passing.
The same is true, not only in the NFL, but all of football is that way. More value has been placed on the signal-callers of today and 11 out of the last 13 Heisman trophy winners have received the award with the Running-back statue.
I don’t think too much value is being placed in Quarterbacks, it’s only awards-wise that they are over-valued as it takes more than just a man under center to win a football game.
His 287 yards and three touchdowns made a strong case for the fifth year veteran out of Delaware. However, things go deeper than Flacco’s stat line and it leads to the question: did he really deserve the MVP?
Let’s examine his three touchdown passes.
There was a toss over the top to Anquan Boldin, who beat the safety and linebacker, who were in zone-coverage, using the exact same play the Ravens scored twice with against the Patriots just two weeks prior. It was more of the 6-foot-1, 220-pound Boldin beating the coverage and being open – all Flacco had to do was loft the ball over the linebacker for six.
Then there was the score to Dennis Pitta. The Ravens had a 3rd & Goal from the 2-yard line and came out in the I-formation. After motioning Vonta Leach into the backfield to provide more protection, they play-action faked to stud Running Back Ray Rice and then Flacco found Pitta wide open in the end-zone for the touchdown.
The third touchdown throw was made great – not by Flacco – but by the receiver, named Jacoby Jones.
Flacco under-threw Jones, who had scorched his man deep, so that Jones had to rotate himself 180o, locate the ball and – as he fell back – he eventually pinned the ball against his facemask, securing the catch. Since Jones reeled the ball, no one had touched him and he had the presence of mind to get up and try to find the goal line.
What happened next I’m sure made Chris Berman give his trademark “Whoop!” twice as Jones spun, lost one defender, stepped back, juked and lost another would-be tackler on his way to the pylon. That last touchdown was good for 56 yards. Other than throwing the ball, Flacco was not responsible for the score.
Jacoby Jones didn’t stop there as the New Orleans native went off for his hometown in the victory.
In fact, the only thing that could stop Jones was the Superdome’s 34-minute power outage.
He wasn’t just great, he was historic. Jones had a reservation for six as he returned the second half opening kickoff 108-yards. That set the record for the longest return in Super Bowl history, and he also is the only player in Super Bowl history to run one back and to catch a TD. Jones also broke Desmond Howard’s record, which he set in Super Bowl XXXI for the Packers, with 244 all-purpose yards. Jones had 289.
So yes, Flacco threw for three touchdowns – but so have three other Quarterbacks in the last decade of Super Bowls. Jones also did that while in front of his hometown on the game’s biggest stage, setting or tying four records. Jones did leave with the hand-fitting of a Super Bowl ring, but that’s not the only hardware he should own.
And that leaves Jacoby Jones asking, when it comes to the Super Bowl MVP trophy, “What’s it going to take?”