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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) Quarterback Joe Flacco put off contract talks with the Baltimore Ravens until after the season was done.

Seems like a terrific decision now, huh?

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.

It was a back-and-forth game oddly interrupted more than a half-hour by a power outage.

``We gave the country a pretty good game to watch,'' Flacco said.

Sure did his part, especially at the outset.

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.

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

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 though, with two short field goals by rookie Justin Tucker padding the lead, and the Lewis-led defense stopping the 49ers on a fourth-and-goal at the 5.

``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 in the regular season 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,'' Flacco said. ``But that's the way the city of Baltimore is. That's the way we are.''

He simply becomes a different player in the playoffs. He set an NFL record for quarterbacks by leading his team to playoff wins in each of his first five seasons. He is 9-4 overall in the postseason.

His contract is up now. And he could wind up with one of the biggest 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.

``He's taken a lot of criticism over his career, for whatever reason,'' Pitta said. ``But we've always believed in him. We've known the kind of player that he is. He's showed up on the biggest stage and performed.''

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

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Get to know Earl Thomas and Mark Ingram

Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Get to know Earl Thomas and Mark Ingram

We are here to help you get your workweek started with the latest Baltimore Ravens news.

Player Notes: 

Running back Mark Ingram is bringing two Pro Bowls, 1,321 rushing yards and 50 rushing touchdowns to the Ravens, but there's a lot about him you may not know. Did you know that his father, Mark Ingram Sr., was drafted at No. 28 overall just like his son? Probably not. Here's five things to know about Ingram via the Ravens' website. 

Safety Earl Thomas isn't just talented on the field, but off the field as well. Thomas can play piano, drums, saxophone and the organ. During his freshman year of high school, Thomas would change out of his football uniform at halftime into his band uniform to perform and then back again. Here's five things to know about Thomas via the Ravens' website

Former Ravens wide receiver Jeremy Maclin is retiring from the game. The 30-year-old made the announcement at his wife's baby shower over the weekend. Selected 19th overall by the Eagles in the 2009 NFL Draft, Maclin played for the Eagles, Chiefs and the Ravens.

Outside linebacker Tim Williams is ready to be a defensive leader for the Ravens in 2019. With the departures of Eric Weddle, Terrell Suggs, C.J. Mosley and Za'Darius Smith in free agency, Williams is ready to be "that man" for the NFL's No.1 defense. 

Williams has yet to play a full season for the Ravens after being drafted in the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In 2018, the linebacker saw action in only sevens games due to hamstring and ankle injuries. 

In AFC news, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement from the league Sunday via Instagram. The 29-year-old finishes his career with 521 receptions for 7,861 yards, 79 touchdowns and three Super Bowl championship. 

Looking Ahead: 

March 24-27: Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, Az.

April 15: Voluntary OTA's may begin

April 19: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Congratulations pour in for Robert Griffin III after re-signing with Ravens

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: Congratulations pour in for Robert Griffin III after re-signing with Ravens

You've made it to Friday and the Baltimore Ravens secured their backup quarterback. What more could we ask for?

Here's the latest news surrounding the Ravens.

Player Notes: 

The Ravens and QB Robert Griffin III agreed in principle to a two-year deal Thursday. A solid option behind Lamar Jackson, players around the league are happy to see the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year remain in the NFL.

The Ravens' newest member of their special teams unit, Justin Bethel, doesn't just have skills on the field but off the field as well. Bethel and his brothers have their own jazz band called House of Bethel, where the Raven plays the drums. In the music video for their single called, "The New Boss," Bethel has nearly a minute long drum solo

ESPN's Mel Kiper re-graded the Ravens' 2018 draft class, bringing them from a B-plus to an A-minus. One of the more stronger classes in recent history, the additions of Jackson, Mark Andrews, Hayden Hurst and Orlando Brown Jr. served the Ravens well in 2018. 

Is Action Jackson a hockey guy? The Ravens QB was spotted Thursday night at an Arizona Coyotes game. 

Looking Ahead: 

March 24-27: Annual League Meeting in Phoenix, Az.

April 15: Voluntary OTA's may begin

April 19: Deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets

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