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Flacco heads to Super Bowl after beating 2 of best

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Flacco heads to Super Bowl after beating 2 of best

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) No doubt about it.

When you beat the best - and Joe Flacco did that in consecutive games - the skeptics should be silenced.

``I'm so glad we're going to the Super Bowl right now,'' Baltimore wide receiver Torrey Smith said, ``so people can get off Joe's back.''

Flacco threw three touchdown passes in the second half, helping the Ravens reach the Super Bowl for the first time in 12 years with a 28-13 win over the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game Sunday.

He beat two-time NFL MVP Tom Brady one week after outplaying Peyton Manning, who has won the award four times, in a 38-35 double-overtime win over the Denver Broncos. And that followed a 24-9 victory over budding star quarterback Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in the wild-card round.

``We've always believed in Joe,'' coach John Harbaugh said, ``and for Joe to come out and to have this kind of a game and this kind of a stage three weeks in a row - Luck's a pretty good quarterback, Manning's a pretty good quarterback and Brady's a great quarterback.

``All those guys are great players, but Joe's a great quarterback. And Joe has proven that. He's not just proven it this year, he's proven it for five years.''

No NFL quarterback - not Brady, not Manning - has more than Flacco's 62 victories, including the postseason, since the start of the 2008 season. No NFL quarterback has more than his six postseason wins on the road. And no other quarterback has a postseason victory in each of his first five seasons during the Super Bowl era.

``He's a great quarterback,'' said wide receiver Anquan Boldin, who caught two touchdown passes. ``I don't know why people keep doubting him because the bigger the situation is, the bigger he plays, and he's proven that time and time again. So maybe they'll get off his back now.''

Finally, he will be the most accomplished quarterback in one of his playoff games when he faces the 49ers, who are favored by 4 1/2 points, in New Orleans on Feb. 3.

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick may have made a splash with his running and passing skills, but he's started just nine games in his two pro seasons.

Flacco has started every Ravens game - 80 in the regular season, 12 in the postseason - since they took him with the 18th pick of the 2008 draft out of Delaware.

As a rookie, he played poorly in a 23-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC championship game. He got back to that game last season, but the Ravens lost 23-20 to the Patriots.

But on the same field Sunday, Flacco completed 21 of 36 passes for 240 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. Brady went 29 for 54 for 320 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

``These games are tough to win and we've put ourselves in the position to win these games and, eventually, you're going to push through and play the way you need to,'' he said.

A week earlier in a 38-35 double-overtime win over the Broncos, he went 18 for 34 for 331 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. That beat Manning's 28 for 43 for 290 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions.

Flacco's passer ratings in this year's postseason games highlight his superiority - 125.6 to Luck's 59.8, 116.2 to Manning's 88.3 and 106.3 to Brady's 62.3.

``I've always been a Joe Flacco fan,'' Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said.

The Patriots led 13-7 at halftime but in a span of 10 minutes and one second Flacco threw touchdown passes of 5 yards to Dennis Pitta, and 3 and 11 yards to Boldin.

``They do a good job stopping the run and we knew we had to come out here in the second half and make some plays in the passing game,'' Flacco said.

He sure did.

After completing just 6 of 12 passes for 81 yards with no touchdowns before the break, he went 15 for 24 for 159 yards in the second half. He was 14 for 18 on the three touchdown drives and even scrambled once for 14 yards and a first down.

In three playoff games this season he's thrown eight touchdown passes and not a single interception.

``He's been great all year, especially in these playoffs,'' Pitta said. ``He deserves this more than anyone.''

Safety Ed Reed saw great potential in Flacco from the quarterback's rookie season.

``From the first snap (when) he went against our defense, I knew he was a smart guy,'' Reed said. ``We blitzed him and he threw it straight to the sideline out of bounds because he knew we were coming. He's always been a leader (with) more than potential to lead us to where we're going right now.''

That should have been clear when Flacco guided the Baltimore offense to three AFC championship games in his five seasons.

His opponents see it now that he's helped take the Ravens to the Super Bowl for the first time in his career.

``He is one of the elite quarterbacks,'' Patriots safety Steve Gregory said. ``I know he gets a lot of flak for possibly not being that type of guy, but he is.''

And now Flacco can look to pad his resume with his first Super Bowl championship.

``It's about who can get ready and who can become their best at the right time and hit the ground running,'' he said. ``And that's what we're doing.''

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There’s one team that could reportedly stop a Terrell Suggs return to Baltimore

There’s one team that could reportedly stop a Terrell Suggs return to Baltimore

According to a report from Ian Rapoport, there’s one team that could ruin a Terrell Suggs return to Baltimore

Rapoport reported on Sunday morning that the Tennessee Titans were one team that appears poised to claim the 37-year-old outside linebacker. 

The Titans entered Sunday at 8-5 and tied for the division lead in the AFC South. 

A connection for Suggs in Tennessee is Dean Pees, who was a linebackers coach for the Ravens from 2010 and 2011 before he became defensive coordinator, a role he held from 2012-2017. He became the Titans defensive coordinator in 2018.

The Ravens don’t have much power when it comes to bringing the franchise icon to Baltimore, as they are currently last on the waiver wire. 

Suggs will be on waivers until Monday at 4 p.m., where he’ll find out which team — if any — claimed the former Defensive Player of the Year. 

Adam Schefter previously reported that Suggs might not report to the team that claims him, should it not be the Ravens. 

Whatever the case is with Suggs, the resolution is coming by Monday evening. 

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Report: Terrell Suggs angling to be claimed by Ravens

Report: Terrell Suggs angling to be claimed by Ravens

Terrell Suggs is currently available for 31 NFL teams, but there's reportedly only one team he wants to play for. 

According to a report from ESPN's Adam Schefter, Suggs only has interest in returning to the Ravens, where he spent the entirety of his career before heading to Arizona this offseason.

Suggs was placed on waivers by the Cardinals on Friday.

Schefter's report states that Suggs has told some people he is unlikely to report anywhere other than Baltimore, showing a desire to, "finish his NFL career in the same city in which he started it."

Suggs is the all-time franchise leader in sacks (132.5) and games played (229) for the Ravens. This year, he has 5.5 sacks, seven quarterback hits and 23 tackles as a member of the Cardinals. It's his first season not in the purple and black. 

The Ravens rank 15th in the NFL with 34 sacks, and could use a pass-rusher like Suggs before the team's playoff push. 

Suggs' position to other teams is likely genuine, as the 37-year-old would certainly love to join the 12-2 Ravens before a playoff push. He was a member of the Ravens when they beat the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII in 2013 and also has seven Pro Bowls and a Defensive Player of The Year award to his name as well. 

With just two games left before the playoffs begin, Suggs' wild ride from Baltimore to Arizona looks to be headed right back to where his career started. 

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