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Baltimore QB Joe Flacco wins Super Bowl MVP award

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Baltimore QB Joe Flacco wins Super Bowl MVP award

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Until this Super Bowl, Joe Flacco always believed in himself more than many other folks did.

Maybe that's because the Baltimore Ravens quarterback never put up the most scintillating statistics. Or because he kept falling short of a championship.

This much was clear: Flacco didn't get the top-of-the-line contract he wanted last offseason, so he put off negotiations until this season was done, confident he would prove himself.

That decision worked out rather well.

Capping a perfect postseason, the unassuming and unheralded Flacco completed 22 of 33 passes for 287 yards and three first-half touchdowns Sunday, earning Super Bowl MVP honors for leading the Ravens to a 34-31 victory over the San Francisco 49ers.

Hey, Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, get your checkbook ready.

``He did let me know if the day came, I could go beat on his desk and really give it to him,'' Flacco said with a smile. ``And that's what I'm going to do.''

Flacco set aside any questions about just how good he is and whether he belongs in the conversation about the league's best quarterbacks, becoming only the sixth in 47 Super Bowls to throw for three scores in a first half. He connected with Anquan Boldin for 13 yards, Dennis Pitta for 1, and Jacoby Jones for 56 in a back-and-forth game oddly interrupted more than a half-hour by a power outage.

Then, on the drive that ended with Baltimore's final points, a field goal with under 4 1/2 minutes left, Flacco faced a third-and-1 at his team's 45-yard line. Given three play calls to choose from, Flacco banged his wrists across each other, signaling for a fade to Boldin. The outcome? A 15-yard gain for a first down.

``It shows you he has got guts,'' Baltimore coach John Harbaugh said. ``He has got the guts of a burglar.''

Earlier, Flacco showed more athleticism than he gets credit for, running to his right under pressure from two linebackers before lofting a 30-yard pass to Boldin.

``Now they're gonna have to talk about Joe Flacco,'' center Matt Birk said. ``Joe's a stud. He showed it tonight.''

Not just Sunday, actually.

The admittedly mild-mannered guy, who played his college football far from the spotlight at Delaware, wrapped up Baltimore's four-game run to the title with a record-equaling 11 TD passes and zero interceptions, going 73 of 126 for 1,140 yards. It was an impressive streak that included road victories against two of the game's most respected QBs, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, and a first-round home win against No. 1 overall draft pick Andrew Luck.

``I wouldn't take any other quarterback over Joe,'' offensive lineman Michael Oher said. ``People give him slack, and I don't know why.''

Flacco's job in the second half Sunday was more about being safe than spectacular. He had helped Baltimore take a 21-6 halftime lead, and it grew to 28-6 when Jones returned the second-half kickoff a Super Bowl-record 108 yards.

That is when things got strange.

First, the lights inside the Superdome cut out, delaying action for more than a half-hour. And when play resumed, San Francisco quickly scored 17 consecutive points to make things interesting.

The Ravens held on down the stretch. Two short field goals by rookie Justin Tucker padded the lead, and the Ray Lewis-led defense stopped the 49ers on a fourth-and-goal at the 5 with under 2 minutes left.

``I was sitting there thinking, `There's no way. There's no way we stop them here,''' Flacco said. ``But we did.''

Neither Flacco nor his team appeared to be ready to take on all comers as the regular season concluded.

After all, the Ravens lost four of their final five games to stumble into the playoffs.

And Flacco, a fifth-year pro, finished only 12th in the 32-team NFL in passer rating at a merely passable 87.7 - way behind league leader Aaron Rodgers' 108.0 - while compiling 22 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions.

Middle-of-the-pack, to say the least.

But he and his team definitely did shine when the results mattered most.

``I tell you what: We don't make it easy,'' said Flacco, who set an NFL quarterback record by leading his team to playoff wins in each of his first five seasons. He is 9-4 overall in the postseason, but was 0-2 in AFC championship games until this year.

And now his contract is up. He could wind up with one of the most lucrative deals in NFL history, perhaps commanding somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million a year.

There would have been an opportunity to sign something last offseason, but Flacco's agent and the Ravens could not agree on how much he was worth.

The rest of the world wasn't really certain, either.

Flacco delivered quite an answer Sunday.

``I'm a Joe Flacco fan. I've been a Joe Flacco fan,'' said Ravens linebacker Lewis, who ended his 17-year career with a second championship. ``To do what he did today, that's what we always see.''

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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2018 NFL Mock Draft Baltimore Ravens Roundup 2.0: Lamar Jackson added to the mix

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USA Today Sports

2018 NFL Mock Draft Baltimore Ravens Roundup 2.0: Lamar Jackson added to the mix

With just about three months to go until the 2018 NFL Draft, more and more names are being thrown into the mix for the Ravens at No. 16.

It's no secret that everyone views an offensive weapon a must, but a lot of media outlets have an outside linebacker in the mix.

Ahead of the Senior Bowl taking place on Saturday, where talent evaluators will get an up close and person view of prospects, let's add to the list of potential first-round picks. The new additions will be in italics. 

RELATED: RAVENS TIGHT END NAMED FINALIST FOR WALTER PAYTON MAN OF THE YEAR

WIDE RECEIVER DRAFT PROSPECTS

Calvin Ridley (Alabama): 

General manager Ozzie Newsome has a tendency to draft guys from his alma mater, and with 'Bama coming off of another national championship, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Ridley go to the Ravens. 

Standing at 6-1 and 190 pounds, Ridley had 63 receptions during his 2017 season for 967 yards and five touchdowns. He would be a solid pickup if still available at No. 16.

Land of 10Rotoworld and Sports Illustrated all have Ridley going to the Ravens at No. 16.

If Ridley is gone by 16, what other offensive option is available for the Ravens? ESPN's Mel Kiper said "None." 

Courtland Sutton (SMU): 

I literally said "dang" when looking up Sutton's 2017 stats.

The 6-4, 216 pound junior has 68 receptions for 1085 yards and 12 TD's in 2017. Just shy of his 76 receptions for 1246 yards and 10 TD's back in 2016.

Bleacher Report has Sutton going to the Ravens in the first-round. 

Christian Kirk (Texas A&M): 

Kirk has been considered a top prospect for the first round by many. 

The 5-11, 200 pound junior finished with 71 receptions, 919 yards and 10 touchdowns. 

James Washington (Oklahoma State): 

At 6-1, 205 pounds, Washington finished his senior year with 74 receptions for 1549 yards and 13 TD's. 

Washington could be a good snag if other viable WRs are gone by pick No. 16. 

RELATED: WHO WERE THE RAVENS' MVPS IN 2017?

RUNNING BACK DRAFT PROSPECTS

Derrius Guice (LSU): 

While fans are hoping for a wide receiver, a running back would be another good offensive weapon option for Flacco.

Guice rushed for 1,251 yards in 2017. He also had 18 receptions for 124 yards and 13 total touchdowns.

CBS Sports now has the 5-11 junior at No. 16.

QUARTERBACK DRAFT PROSPECTS

Lamar Jackson (Louisville):

Bleacher Report's David McCracken is the only mock draft I've found with the Ravens taking a QB at No. 16. 

Jackson is among a draft class with a lot of strong QBs but is expected to go somewhere in the first-round. 

Throwing for 3,660 yards and 27 touchdowns, Jackson could be a strong candidate to succeed Flacco. 

Josh Allen (Wyoming): 

While I don't foresee the Ravens taking a QB in the first-round, Allen would be a good pick if for some crazy reason they did. Bigger named QBs like Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen will likely be taken by bottom five teams in desperate need of one.

At 6-5, 233 pounds, Allen had 1812 yards on the season for 16 touchdowns. 

Bold pick: If the Ravens are that focused on finding their next franchise QB, they could trade up to grab someone like Mayfield or Jackson.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN DRAFT PROSPECTS

Orlando Brown Jr. (Oklahoma): 

NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah listed Brown in his first mock draft.

Jeremiah said, "The Ravens need to address the wide receiver position, but they have a good track record of filling that void with veteran players in free agency. Brown would immediately start at right tackle for Baltimore, just like his father did a little more than a decade ago."

Brown stands at 6-8, 345 pounds and was a unanimous first-team All-American among being named Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year.

Brian O'Neill (Pitt):

ESPN's Mel Kiper released his latest mock draft and to some surprise picked O'Neill for the Ravens. 

The Junior is listed at 6-6, 305 pounds and came to Pitt as a tight end. He moved to left tackle in 2017, but with only three-years experience at the O-line position, he's high on the list because of his athleticism and footwork.

The Ravens will get a chance to see him in action at the Senior Bowl this week.

RELATED: IMPORTANT 2018 OFFSEASON DATES

DEFENSIVE DRAFT PROSPECTS

Arden Key (LSU): 

If history repeats itself, the Ravens may select a defensive weapon in the first-round.

What Key could bring to the table at 6-6, 238 pounds is some relief to Terrell Suggs who will be 36 in 2018.

Ben Standing- in his latest NFL mock draft -has Key being drafted by the Ravens.

Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama): 

There are two things Ozzie Newsome likes; defensive players and defensive players from Alabama.

Fitzpatrick can check both of those off of his list. He's also a two-time All-American, won the Bednarik Award for defensive player of the year and won the Jim Thorpe Award for the nation's best defensive back. He can add national champion to that list too.

CBS Sports has Fitzpatrick going to the Ravens in the first-round in their first edition.

Marcus Davenport (Texas-San Antonio): 

Davenport is another strong option to one day replace Terrell Suggs.

At 6-7, 255 pounds, Davenport had 55 combined tackles, 8.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles. SB Nation's Dan Kadar has him on his list saying, "He’s a lengthy edge rusher who uses speed and power to get into the backfield."

Denzel Ward (Ohio State):

The All-American has chosen to skip his senior year at Ohio State and enter into the draft.

The 5-10, 191 pound cornerback had 37 total tackles, 2 interceptions and 15 passes defended in 2017. 

While Land of 10 has them at No.16, the Ravens are hopeful that Jimmy Smith will be fully recovered from his Achillies injury at the start of the season. It should be noted that they drafted CB Marlon Humphrey during the first-round of the 2017 draft.

RELATED: FIVE BIGGEST QUESTIONS FOR RAVENS THIS OFFSEASON

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Ravens' Benjamin Watson named finalist for Walter Payton Man of the Year

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USA Today Sports

Ravens' Benjamin Watson named finalist for Walter Payton Man of the Year

Ravens' tight end Benjamin Watson is among three finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award which "recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field."

The 14-year veteran is being recognized for his One More Foundation, which Watson and his wife Kirsten created in 2008. According to their website, the foundations purpose is "devoted to spreading the love and hope of Christ to One More soul by meeting real needs, promoting education and providing enrichment opportunities through charitable initiatives and partnerships." This is the second time in Watson's career he has been nominated. 

RELATED: RAVENS' 2017 MVP'S

In addition to this nomination, Watson was awarded the 2017 Bart Starr Award which is given annually to a NFL player who "best exemplifies outstanding character and leadership in the home, on the field, and in the community." 

Some of Watson's charitable efforts through the One More Foundation include participating in #MyClauseMyCleasts to bring awareness to human sex trafficking, playing secret Santa to 25 families from Building Families for Children and partnering with the New Orleans Family Justice Center- where he used to play- helping survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking.

Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is a finalist for his Receptions for Research Foundation which focuses on cancer research and programming. Olsen and his wife Kara also started the HEARTest Yard Fund, a family service program that "provides families of babies affected by congenital heart disease with services including in-home, private nursing care, physical therapy and speech therapy, all at no cost to the families or hospital."

RELATED: FIVE BIGGEST OFFSEASON QUESTIONS FOR RAVENS

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt is a finalist for the $37 million he raised for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in addition to his already established Justin J. Watt Foundation

The winner will be announced at NFL Honors airing February 3rd at 9 p.m ET on NBC. 

The winner will receive a $500,000 donation with $250,000 of it going to their foundation of choice and the other $250,000 going in his name to help expand Character Playbook nationwide.