Way back when, The Beatles sang “With a Little Help from My Friends”. Well, last night in New Orleans, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco won a Super Bowl, “With a Little Help from His Friends”.
In one night, Flacco did three things few thought he’d ever be able to accomplish: play in a Super Bowl, win a Super Bowl, and win Super Bowl MVP, leading the Ravens in what was the quintessential team effort.
In a twist from convention, Flacco earned his MVP honors more in the first half of the game than the second half. On Baltimore’s first possession, Flacco completed three of four passes, ultimately throwing a 13-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin to break the ice. That touchdown gave the Ravens a 7-0 lead; a lead that they would never relinquish.
Flacco would throw two more touchdowns before the end of the first half, a one-yard pass to Dennis Pitta and a 56-yard pass to Jacoby Jones, as Flacco continued to show a knack for the long ball, just as he has all throughout Baltimore’s playoff run. Flacco led the Ravens to touchdowns on three of their five first-half possessions. Meanwhile, the Baltimore defense held the San Francisco offense to just two field goals in the first 30 minutes. By the time the two teams went into the locker room for halftime, the Ravens led 21-6 and most of Flacco’s work in his MVP effort was complete. In the end, Flacco completed 22 of his 33 passes for 287 yards, with three touchdowns and no interceptions, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to play four games in a single postseason without throwing an interception. It was yet another instance of Flacco being the first in NFL history to accomplish an impressive feat. Between that and the comfortable lead he led the Ravens to in the first half, Flacco was well deserving of the MVP award.
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In the second half, Flacco let his teammates finish the job. Jacoby Jones started the second half with a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, which set a new postseason record and gave the Ravens a 22-point cushion. Between that special teams touchdown and the power outage inside the Superdome, Flacco was absent from the field for an extended period of time, which made him understandably rusty in the second half. However, despite the delay, and with strong play from his offensive line, which allowed just two sacks and held the San Francisco pass rush at bay, Flacco helped the Ravens to two 4th quarter field goals, which turned out to be just enough to get the win.
The rest was on the Ravens’ defense. Ray Lewis and company shut down the 49ers throughout the first half, but San Francisco found a way to crawl back into the game during the 3rd quarter. After absorbing plenty of pressure, the Baltimore defense came away with three key stops: with the lead down to eight and all the momentum swinging towards the 49ers late in the 3rd quarter, the Ravens stopped the 49ers on three straight plays, forcing a field goal following a Ray Rice fumble; when San Francisco had a chance to tie, the Ravens stopped a two-point conversion attempt; and on the final drive of the game, the Ravens made a goal-line stand to seal the victory.
As the Baltimore pass rush came hard and Colin Kaepernick’s throw sailed high on 4th and goal with less the two minutes on the clock, the total team effort was complete. The defense finished in the 4th quarter what Flacco started in the 1st quarter. Flacco put his team ahead and in a position to win, and his team did the rest. And that’s how Flacco proved all his critics wrong, by winning a Super Bowl and winning Super Bowl MVP, “With a Little Help from His Friends”.