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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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Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

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USA Today Sports

Fellow dance student of Ravens' Alex Collins fatally shot in Florida school shooting

On Wednesday, February 14, a horrific school shooting claimed the lives of 17 innocent people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. 

The tragic event impacted people far and wide, and hit especially close to home for Ravens running back Alex Collins.

The former Arkansas star was born in Plantation, Fla., a suburb of Fort Lauderdale and went to high school just 15 miles south of Douglas High School. 

In the offseason, Collins took Irish dancing lessons to improve his footwork, and following the act of terror, the Ravens' tailback learned that one of his dance partners had been killed in the mass shooting.

17-year-old Cara Loughran attended The Drake school of Irish Dance with Collins in addition to two other Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students and was fatally shot by the gunman on Wednesday afternoon. 

Collins took to his Twitter account to issue this heartfelt message.

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“The school shooting yesterday hit home,” Collins wrote.

“We received confirmation a few hours ago we lost one of the girls, Cara Loughran. Two other girls saw and experienced unspeakable tragedy. My heart goes out to these girls, all their families and their teacher Chrissy.”

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Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

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USA Today Sports

Baltimore Ravens to take on Chicago Bears in Hall of Fame game

BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears will launch the NFL's 99th season by playing in the annual Hall of Fame game on Aug. 2.

The Ravens' first appearance in the Hall of Fame game, which launches the league's 2018 Enshrinement Week. Former Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis is among the inductees, along with former Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher.

Lewis, who played 17 seasons with the Ravens, and Urlacher, who played all of his 13 seasons with Chicago, both were elected on the first ballot.

Lewis joins Jonathan Ogden as the only Ravens in the Hall of Fame. Both were selected by Baltimore in the first round of the 1996 draft.

The other members of the Class of 2018 include Bobby Beathard, Robert Brazile, Brian Dawkins, Jerry Kramer, Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. All will be inducted on Saturday, Aug. 4.

This will be the record-tying fifth time that the Bears will play in the Hall of Fame game. They won the previous four, most recently 27-24 over Miami in 2005.

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