Since his day as a Golden Hen at D-1AA Delaware playoff winning quarterback Joe Flacco has had his fair share of doubters. Despite possessing the look and arm strength a NFL quarterback many questioned how the meek mannered rookie from Audobon, New Jersey would mesh with a Raven locker room full of characters. Since Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome had made a career out of unearthing NFL draft gems expectations for the ‘Golden Hen” could not be any higher.
Five years and three AFC Championships later the silent assassin has led the Ravens within one game of reaching Superbowl XLVII in New Orleans. For nearly a decade the Ravens relied on their defense to set the tone while the offense often took a back seat. However, due to both age, father time, and necessity the Ravens offense has taken center stage. Blessed with an impressive collection of play-makers like veteran wide receiver Anquan Bolden, mighty-mite running back Ray Rice half-man half-gaze Torrey Smith the days of a game-managing offense are over.
Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense battled inconsistency throughout the regular season. Due to a four-game losing streak many critics questioned whether another early playoff exit was on the horizon. However, through injury and adversity the Ravens rallied around Ray Lewis who announced that he would retire at the end of the season.
Although Ray Lewis grabbed all the headlines the fate of the Ravens would ultimately rest on the arm of the one Raven who is scrutinized more than he is ever praised. A year after leading the Ravens within a dropped pass of the Super Bowl Flacco is at it again. In their AFC Championship re-match with the Patriots many have already presumed that the Patriots will win. However, such a presumption would be a huge mistake due to a resurgent Ravens offense and injuries the Patriots suffered in the Divisional Playoffs.
This will mark the third time that Flacco has the opportunity to come within a win of becoming a Super Bowl champion. Unlike his two previous attempts Flacco will enter this game pressure free with the limelight focusing on his teammate Ray Lewis and his opposing quarterback GQ coverboy Tom Brady. In his two previous outings Flacco has shown great command of the offense silencing critics who questioned his clutch-gene when he out-dueled Peyton Manning in a double overtime thriller.
Not one to root for happy ending at this point it appears that the Ravens may be a team of destiny. The Ravens have overcome a number of obstacles in their pursuit for a Super Bowl: the death of wide receiver Torrey Smiths brother, Terrell Suggs achilles injury, Ray Lewis torn pectoral and retirement, and the firing of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in week 13. Led by Flacco and a team that is surging the best may be yet to come. Stay tuned… I know I will. – A. Denmark