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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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Current and former Ravens react to George Floyd’s murder in Minnesota

Current and former Ravens react to George Floyd’s murder in Minnesota

Prominent current and former Ravens players spoke out Wednesday after videos and pictures spread on social media of a Minneapolis police officer with his knee on the neck of a black man, identified as George Floyd, on Monday. 

Floyd, who said he couldn’t breathe while the officer’s knee was on his neck, was killed. The four officers involved, including Derek Chauvin, the officer whose knee suffocated Floyd, were fired.

Riots in Minnesota broke out, as a nationwide cry for justice occurred.

“It’s something that obviously it’s pretty easy to see what’s happening,” Ronnie Stanley said Wednesday on a conference call with local media. “Hopefully justice prevails in this case. It’s really sad to see. I really feel bad for him, his family and his loved ones. I’m keeping them in my prayers.”

Safety Earl Thomas posted a picture to Instagram with the caption, ‘Being black in America is exhausting.’ 

Former wide receiver Torrey Smith tweeted multiple times in the past 24 hours about the incident. 

Current Dallas Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence posted that he was, “done being quiet and done being angry.”

Other sports figures posted as well, including LeBron James, who posted a photo of Chauvin and Colin Kaepernick side-by-side.

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Ravens’ left tackle Ronnie Stanley in ‘no rush’ to get contract extension before start of season

Ravens’ left tackle Ronnie Stanley in ‘no rush’ to get contract extension before start of season

Ronnie Stanley is less than a year away from adding a few more numbers to his contract. As to what day that will be, however, is yet to be determined. 

Stanley, the Ravens’ left tackle, is entering the fifth-year of his rookie contract at the best possible time for himself. He was an All-Pro and Pro Bowler in 2019, both the first selections of his career. He anchored the league’s best rushing attack and was widely regarded as one of, if not the best, pass blockers in the game. 

Now, it’s time for the Ravens to pay up. And by every indication, it won’t be cheap. But Stanley isn’t in a hurry to get his contract done just yet. 

“Honestly right now, I’m not really thinking about it,” Stanley said. “I’m kind of in no rush when it comes to that right now. I’m not really worried about it, per se. That’s just kind of my mentality toward it, at the moment.”

The sixth-overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Stanley has slowly transformed himself into one of the game’s best offensive linemen at one of the most premier positions in the sport. That position pays handsomely, too. 

Laremy Tunsil, who was selected seven picks after Stanley in 2016, recently signed a contract extension with the Texans after being traded from the Dolphins at the outset of the 2019 season. The deal is for three years and worth $66 million with $40 million guaranteed at signing. After his fifth-year option expires in 2020, he will receive base salaries of: $16.15 million, $17.85 million and $18.5 million. His cap hit will account for nine percent, 9.3 percent, and nine percent in his three years on the Texans. 

Those numbers were music to Stanley and his agent’s ears.

“My first reaction was I was just super happy that he got what he got, first of all,” Stanley said. “I was happy because he deserved it. This position is definitely one of the top two, three hardest positions on the field. For him to get respected like that, with how much he got paid, made me feel very happy for him because he deserved it.”

The next three highest-paid tackles, Anthony Castonzo, Taylor Lewan and Nate Solder, all average more than $15 million per season. Stanley is sure to eclipse those numbers when his deal comes around. 

With the Ravens due up for contracts in the next few seasons for Stanley, Marlon Humphrey, Mark Andrews, Orlando Brown Jr. and eventually Lamar Jackson, how big of a contract Stanley receives could influence other negotiations. 

What Stanley has over all of those players, however, is that he might be the best player at his position across the entire league. 

“I definitely want to get paid my value and what I’m worth, or what I feel I’m worth,” Stanley said. “That part of it is important. But at the end of the day, I don’t think money is the most important thing to me.”

Stanley’s contract, while expected to come with a hefty price tag, will come with more off-the-field responsibilities. 

He’s now the unquestioned leader of the offensive line after the retirement of Marshal Yanda, leaving Stanley, just 26-years-old, as the eldest member of the line with significant starting experience in the purple and black. Now, more than ever, he’ll be looked at as a voice of veteran leadership in the offensive line room. 

With the NFL’s offseason in flux, and no set return date for the NFL, the Ravens — who might have two starters on the line who weren’t on the Ravens last season — minimizing the learning curve will be crucial to start the season. Unfortunately for offensive linemen, there’s no real equivalent to what the skill position players can do together.

“Super difficult to do that as an offensive line without being together,” Stanley said. “I really want to bring everyone together, but I know it’s pretty much impossible right now with the rona [coronavirus] and everything going on. Definitely in the future, that’s something I’d want to do. Bring us all together and do drills, work on things. It’s just really hard to get those type of things without really being physically there to really correct the technique and the little things. That’s what really matters.”

Whenever the Ravens’ offensive line is able to get together, though, they might be joined by one of the newly highest-paid players in the sport to protect Jackson’s blindside.

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